27 April 2012

Bob HawkeThey were years packed with change and controversy and many of the decisions made between 1983 and 1991 helped to fashion a new Australia for the 21st century.

As part of the About Time South Australian History Festival theHawke Centre and the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library have brought together an exhibition that marks the important economic, social and political shifts that were part and parcel of the Hawke era in Australian politics.
The exhibition, Advancing Australia Fair: Bob Hawke and his government, 1983-1991, will be officially opened by former Governor of South Australia and Hawke Centre patron, Sir Eric Neal AC, CVO on May 3 at UniSA’s Kerry Packer Civic Gallery.

It documents the breadth and depth of change during the Hawke years of government.

Elected as Australia’s 23rd Prime Minister in 1983, Bob Hawke was the only South Australian-born PM in the nation’s history. He held the top job until 1991 and oversaw a period of real paradigm shift in Australian society.

Sir Eric said Bob Hawke remains as one of Australia’s most outstanding Prime Ministers.

“As Chief Executive of Boral, at the time of Bob Hawke’s election to office one of Australia’s larger companies, I saw a significant improvement in relationships between the trade unions and the corporate sector under his leadership as Prime Minister,” Sir Eric said.

“His Summit Conference attended by businesses leaders and trade union leaders, initiated soon after he became PM, improved the understanding of all parties involved about the need to work more closely together to improve Australia’s economic performance and ultimately that benefitted all Australians.”

Sir Eric said that strong leadership and the foundations built by Bob Hawke held Australia in good stead across the Hawke and Keating years.

Other significant changes during the period included the introduction of a universal healthcare system in Medicare, the explosion of the conservation movement on the national political scene with the successful anti-Franklin dam campaign and the fight to save Kakadu, the consolidation of Australia’s relationship with China and the lifting of trade barriers, and changes to higher education that saw increased access to education through the creation of new universities such as the University of South Australia, this year celebrating its 21st birthday.

The exhibition is a unique snapshot of nation-changing events, policies and movements. It will be open to the public from Monday April 30 to Wednesday June 6.

News editors please note: Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke will be attending the launch. Kate Ellis, Minister for Employment Participation and Minister for Early Childhood and Childcare will be representing Prime Minister Julia Gillard at the launch and will deliver a message from the Prime Minister.

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