In sadness we rejoice

It sounds harsh, but it is not. Last night, two days before the elections, Australia lost one of its most legendary politicians. Bob Hawke, born 9 December 1929 has passed away.

It brings a moment of sadness to the Australians. It does not matter which party you are connected to, every party in Australia recognises the amazing achievements that Bob Hawke made. An MP for Wills (1980-1992) and leader of the Labor party from 1983-1991.

His achievements stand in many places as creator of Landcare and Medicare; he established APEC and introduced the Family Assistance Scheme. He created several services that have now outlived him and will continue to do so for a long time to come. Even the students have a lot to celebrate as the Hawke Labor Government gradually re-introducing fees for university study (1989). It also set up the Higher Education Contributions Scheme (HECS), so that anyone could get a tertiary education, a solution that is still with us today.

My political view goes in another direction, but you cannot have anything but the highest regard and admiration for what he has achieved. We should show the highest reverence to his accomplishments, many of them still functioning today, still here after he left office 27 years ago.

So why do we rejoice?

We rejoice because a man like this, what he did for all Australians should be celebrated by every Australian regardless of political view and even regardless of age. Medicare and HECS might be the most visible icons for the young, but not the only one. If there is one part that we need to quote Channel Nine: “World-class universities, where places are earned on merit not purchased by privilege“, I was alive and old enough before there were HECS options, and I agree. When the option was on my doorstep, I never regarded Law of Medicine as an option, those two educations were for the rich and those with a family in either law or medicine (basically they were rich). As a mature student I got my Master degree in Law (IP law). I was able to prove to myself that I was able to get to a place I never thought I was able to get to and that might be the strongest feeling of achievement that a person could ever have.

So take the expression ‘Bob’s your uncle‘ into your heart, because the actions of Bob Hawke show that he was the Uncle for all Australians (figure of speech), the welcome relative to an entire nation. If you are Australian (even if you are not), when you are in a bar, raise your glass to his memory and rejoice as you cheer him, an Australian titan that has left our sights, but not our hearts.

May another political titan rise one day, hopefully surpassing what he was able to do, it will be the tallest order ever, but it would be a journey worthy for any politician who is serious about trying to scale new heights.


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