LOCAL Labor candidate Andrew Woodward has given a heartfelt tribute to former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who passed away yesterday, aged 89.
The Bellingen-based Mr Woodward is contesting the seat of Cowper at the Federal Election, but like so many others, has paused to reflect on the contributions of Labor's longest serving Prime Minister.
"In my 30 years as a senior political journalist and later as a member of the Labor Party, I had many encounters with Bob Hawke. I saw him at the top of his game as PM," Mr Woodward said.
"I also saw him at the other end of the spectrum, helping and mentoring Labor candidates and acting as a guardian of the party.
"In any of these capacities, he brought with him the same vigour, passion and intellect that he is famous for.
"But more than anything else, he was a top bloke who gave his time freely to anyone."
Mr Woodward noted the irony that he had come 'full circle' - in one of the legacies of Mr Hawke.
"Bob was someone who indoctrinated me with the need to care for the environment," Mr Woodward said.
"I remember as a journalist in 1989 when I was a bureau chief at Parliament House in Canberra, travelling with Mr Hawke to Wentworth where he announced a Labor Government would plant one billion trees to deal with soil erosion.
"That struck a chord with me and here I am 30 years on actively campaigning on initiatives similar to this.
"Thanks Bob. Good on you, mate."