Bob Hawke was born in South Australia in 1929. At age 15, he boasted that he would one day become Prime Minister of Australia.
He joined The Labor Party in 1947 and attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar in 1953. He became the students’ representative at the Australian National University Council and in 1957 he became a research officer at the ACTU.
Highly successful in his role arguing the annual case for higher wages to the national wages tribunal on behalf of the ACTU, he was encouraged to run for ACTU President and was elected in 1969. During the 1970s, the ACTU was defined by the presidency of Bob Hawke.
Bob steered the organisation through a period of enormous social change. The ACTU’s role in influencing social policy came to the fore in areas like education, health, housing and family payments. Meanwhile, industrial protests against apartheid, the Vietnam War, sexual discrimination and other social issues captured the headlines.
In the early 1970s speculation began that he would seek to enter the Australian Parliament. He achieved this in 1980, winning the Melbourne seat of Wills in October of that year. He became Labor leader after winning a leadership vote against Bill Hayden in February 1983 and won the federal election held just a month later in March 1983.
Bob was Prime Minister from March 1983 until December 1991.