The passing of former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke sent shockwaves through the closing days of the 2019 federal election campaign.
Hawke, one of the most successful Labor prime ministers in Australia’s rich history, enjoyed popularity until his death. From his plain-talking style to his world-renowned affection for beer and to his famous Australia jacket, Bob Hawke connected with Australians, many of whom are mourning him today. Labor, Coalition, and other opposition figures offered condolences for the Silver Bodgie.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison:
Bob Hawke was a great Australian who led and served our country with passion, courage, and an intellectual horsepower that made our country stronger.
He was true to his beliefs in the Labor tradition and defined the politics of his generation and beyond.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) May 16, 2019
Labor leader Bill Shorten:
The labour movement salutes our greatest son.
Australians everywhere remember and honour a man who gave so much to the country and people he cared for so deeply.
May he rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/NzKwxW1e4X
— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) May 16, 2019
Greens leader Richard Di Natale:
Vale Bob Hawke. A giant among PMs. He had the courage to save the Franklin River when all looked lost. He got World Heritage listing of the Daintree Wet Tropics. He introduced Medicare. Legend. You’ll be missed Silver Bodgie.
— Richard Di Natale (@RichardDiNatale) May 16, 2019
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd:
Bob Hawke is a giant of Australian politics. He and Paul Keating internationalised the Australian economy. He established APEC and radically deepened Australia’s engagement with Asia. He established Medicare. Together with Therese and the entire nation, I mourn his passing.
— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) May 16, 2019
This is not an obituary for Hawke, rather us staying in our lane by looking at his electoral history. Under Hawke, the Labor Party won four consecutive elections, something no other Labor prime minister did before, or has done since.
1983 Australian Election: Bob Hawke Gets In
After eight years of Liberal premiership by Malcolm Fraser, Hawke became prime minister of Australia in 1983. This was a big win for Labor, who last won an election under Gough Whitlam. Labor picked up two dozen seats en route to a 25-seat majority, back when the House of Representatives had just 125 members. The Labor gains were spread very evenly amongst the states: for example, five ALP gains in New South Wales, six in Victoria, five in Western Australia, and five in Queensland.
In Hawke’s first election and victory as Labor leader, their two-party preferred vote increased thanks to a 3.6 percent swing. The ALP finished with 53.23 percent of the 2PP vote.
1984 Australian Election: Second Term for Hawke
Less than two years after the 1983 election, Australia went back to the polls. The House of Representatives added 23 seats to rise to 148. Andrew Peacock led the Liberals, but it was another Victorian, Bob Hawke’s, election to win as he claimed a second mandate. Labor rose just seven seats to 82 while the Coalition jumped to 66, or a rise of 16. A small handful of sitting Labor MPs were defeated, whereas none lost in 1983.
The ALP suffered a modest swing against of 1.46 percent but still held together 51.77 percent of the two-party preferred vote.
1987 Australian Election: Bob Hawke Three-peat
Andrew Peacock left the Liberal leadership in favour of another future prime minister, John Howard. Yet, Ol’ Silver was bound for his third consecutive majority government at the top of Labor. The Labor Party won 86 seats, a gain of four, while the Coalition shed four seats. Despite their increase in parliamentary seats, the Coalition picked up almost a percent to a 49.17 percent two-party preferred figure.
Just two sitting Labor MPs lost their seats, one of which was in Hawke’s home state of Victoria.
1990 Australian Election: One More for Bob Hawke
With his victory in the 1990 Australian federal election, Hawke became the only Labor prime minister to date to win a fourth-straight poll. Though his government waned in popularity towards the end, it still had enough staying power to generate another majority. Hawke would be replaced a year later by Paul Keating after the latter spent years in waiting. Keating went on to a shocking general election upset win in 1993 before John Howard led the Coalition back in 1996.
Hawke again faced Andrew Peacock, back in charge of the Liberal Party, with the result being a narrow Labor majority. Unlike his other three wins, however, the Labor Party lost the two-party preferred race: 50.1 percent Coalition to 49.9 Labor.