Bob Hawke was 'a larrikin who loved Australia' says former chief political correspondent

MEMORIES OF GOOD TIMES: Taken in the late 1980s, this picture shows Bob Hawke and Peter Logue, who would grow to be good friends.
MEMORIES OF GOOD TIMES: Taken in the late 1980s, this picture shows Bob Hawke and Peter Logue, who would grow to be good friends.

While former prime minister Bob Hawke has passed away he has left a long and lasting impact on people from around the country.

After the 89-year-old died on Thursday, May 16, one of the people mourning him was the Bega Valley's Yuin Folk Club president Peter Logue, who first got to know him when the Labor legend was the leader of the Australian Council of Trade Unions in the 1970s.

"My strongest memories were of a man who understood how a government worked, who trusted and respected his own cabinet and who rarely intervened, unless he thought things had gone off the rails," Mr Logue said.

"He was confident, a bit brash and egotistical, but he had the common touch and loved mixing with ordinary Australians, at the races or in the pubs."

When they first met, Mr Logue was working as a journalist with AAP covering politics and the labour movement.

"Hawke would often be in Canberra and at ALP conferences. I didn't know him well in those days and, as he admitted later, he drank too much and wasn't very nice to be around," he said.

When Mr Logue moved to work in Canberra full-time in the early '80s, Mr Hawke had entered parliament and was working behind the scenes to take over the Australian Labor Party leadership from Bill Hayden.

Mr Logue "really got to know him" when he joined News Ltd as chief political correspondent and travelled extensively with him within Australia and overseas for about six years, then later when Mr Logue lived in China they would catch up every time Mr Hawke visited the country.

Mr Logue said the former PM had a "brilliant mind" and was across the fine detail of policy in every area, but he and his first wife Hazel Hawke still loved a good party - even though he was off the grog.

MEMORIES OF GOOD TIMES: Taken in the late 1980s, this picture shows Peter Logue and Bob Hawke, who would grow to be good friends.

MEMORIES OF GOOD TIMES: Taken in the late 1980s, this picture shows Peter Logue and Bob Hawke, who would grow to be good friends.

"When we travelled we all worked hard for weeks on end and then Bob would make sure there was a big party at the end," he said.

"As a musician, I'd often travel with an instrument and Bob loved nothing more than a good singalong.

"His favourite songs were the trade union anthems, Solidarity for Ever and The Red Flag.

"Once in Austin, Texas, he sang those in front of the Bush clan and their supporters. I think they were quite shocked."

Mr Logue grew to like and admire Mr Hawke very much, which he believed was was reciprocal.

"He would often get me to put bands or performers together for parties at the Lodge or functions in Parliament House," he said.

"Professionally, he could be highly critical of articles I wrote that he didn't like and there could be quite heated arguments. But he wasn't one to hold a grudge.

"He was a leader, an intellectual and a larrikin who loved Australia."

The future PM comes to Bega

Long-time member of the Labor Party and resident of the Far South Coast Claire Lupton said according her memory Mr Hawke only visited Bega once.

She said in 1983, while he was campaigning to become prime minister, he visited Pambula before travelling to Bega to hold a meeting in Ayres Walkway.

"He had a real aura about him," she said.

Peter Logue (second left) reunites with Bob Hawke and friends in more recent years.

Peter Logue (second left) reunites with Bob Hawke and friends in more recent years.

"He had tremendous charisma. People were eager to come up and shake his hand.

"He's very blokey! He's affable, genial, but macho."

Ms Lupton said there was even a cartoonist at the meeting who drew her into a cartoon with the future prime minister!

While that was the only time she met him, she admired him greatly, particularly for what he did for the environment.

"He was also very prominent in making the South African government realise apartheid was a bad policy," she said.

"He did a lot for the world as well as in Australia.

"He worked with the unions and big businesses and got them all to agree. He got along very well with everybody."