Bob Hawke was a great Australian and a great Australian prime minister.
Bob genuinely loved the Australian people and they loved him back. Bob was truly a man of the people.
His tremendous success as Labor's longest-serving prime minister is well known. His government oversaw a restructuring of Australia and positioned us to take advantage of the modern world.
Along with Paul Keating as treasurer, Bob completely reformed the Australian economy and opened us up to the rest of the world. Among these reforms were the floating of the Australian dollar and the introduction of foreign banks. Through all of this, Bob never gave up his commitment to working people.
Bob's government introduced Medicare, providing all Australians with universal health insurance. His government introduced the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. His government protected the Franklin River and passed the World Heritage Conservation Act. When Bob became prime minister, just 30 per cent of students completed year 12. By the time he left office, 70 per cent completed year 12.
Bob visited Mandurah on a number of occasions. As prime minister he visited Mandurah in 1983, attending a function at the greyhound track.
I welcomed him to Mandurah, along with the Federal Brand MHR, Hon Kim Beazley, when Bob helped campaign for Kim at several federal elections in the 1990s and into the 2000s.
I always remember having lunch with Bob and Blanche at what was Prontos Restaurant near the old bridge.
Bob told stories about his visits to Mandurah as a young man, his fishing under the old bridge and his admiration for how beautiful our area was. At that lunch there was a large table of firefighters nearby who noticed who he was and asked for a photo. Bob obliged and they were awe struck. He laughed and chatted with them. The Bob Hawke magic was clearly on display that day in Mandurah.
Bob's achievements as prime minister have made Australia a better, fairer and more prosperous country. Without question, Australia is a better place for having Bob as prime minister.
May he rest in peace.
David Templeman is Mandurah's state member of parliament.