Bob Hawke ‘in the arms of a loving God’, says Beazley

Former deputy prime minister Kim Beazley says he talked with former prime minister Bob Hawke about “his destination” in their last conversation.

Delivering a eulogy at Mr Hawke’s state memorial service held at the Sydney Opera House this morning, Mr Beazley, who is the current Governor of Western Australia, asked, “Well, where is he now?”

“He believed he would live in the hearts or at least the minds of those who knew him.” – Kim Beazley

“Bob set great store by his pastor father Clem’s saying, ‘If you believe in the fatherhood of God, you must believe in the brotherhood of man’,” Mr Beazley said.

“He still firmly held the second part of Clem’s saying but no longer the first. But, for me, I am sustained by the belief he is in the arms of a loving God. He believed he would live in the hearts or at least the minds of those who knew him. Then, when we all pass, in the history books and stories of future generations, there he will reside while ever his nation abides.”

Mr Hawke’s daughter, Sue Pieters-Hawke, said her father was “nurtured within a loving family in the twin citadels of the congregational church and the Labor Party.”

“By the time we came along,” she explained, “this had morphed into a progressive, agnostic humanitarianism, with a deep love for people and an unshakable commitment to the realisation of a fairer and more just world.”

Hawke was prime minister from March 1983 to December 1991, making him Labor’s longest serving prime minister. He passed away on the May 16 at 89 years of age.

At today’s memorial service, Mr Hawke was honoured by family and former colleagues and current political leaders, in speeches that lauded his many leadership qualities and policy achievements. Remarkable as these are, they are somewhat to be expected at the State Memorial of any former prime minister.

More unusual, though, were the many references to the former national leader’s capacity to love.

“Today, I come to speak on behalf of a nation Bob Hawke loved and that deeply loved him in return,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. “… The ’80s in Australia will always be the Hawke era, and it is a rich legacy for Australians. But grand accomplishments are not the worth or measure of a human being. Rather, a life is measured by its love – love given, and love returned.

“Just because you didn’t vote for Bob didn’t mean you were beyond his love.” – Anthony Albanese

“As Australians – all, as he coined the phrase, forever in our national anthem as we’ve sung – we thank Bob Hawke for loving Australia and loving Australians with every fibre of his being, with every measure of his enormous enthusiasm, with every meed [a person’s deserved share of praise, honour, etc] of his great intellect, with every laugh, every tribute, every tear and every moment of his great devotion. Bob Hawke loved our country and we are a better nation for it. In his passing, we honour and give thanks for a great Australian patriot.”

Former ACTU leader Bill Kelty said Mr Hawke was “no saint”, but he said that he loved Australia “to the depths and breadths and height that his life could give”.

Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese described Mr Hawke as having a heart that was “too big to be contained by party lines,” saying “just because you didn’t vote for Bob didn’t mean you were beyond his love.”

He concluded his remarks by saying, “Farewell, Bob, you go with the nation’s gratitude. You go with the nation’s respect and you go with the nation’s love.”