Illawarra Labor MP’s and their supporters are deeply saddened by the passing of Bob Hawke.

Bob was a legend of the Labor Party and the entire labour movement.

Our nation was forever changed under his leadership.

From launching Medicare, introducing universal superannuation, to stopping the damming of the Franklin River, to leading the international push to reject mining in Antarctica, to leading the charge to improve race relations domestically and ending apartheid in South Africa, to the development of the Accord and opening up the Australian economy to the world, Bob Hawke’s government has had an influence well beyond its years in office.

Before, during and after his prime ministership Bob was a regular visitor to the Illawarra.

The region held a special significance for him and the Illawarra had a special place for him.  This was particularly demonstrated by the development of the 1984 Steel Plan which saved Port Kembla Steelworks.

The Hawke and Keating governments modernised Australia transforming our economy and making us internationally competitive. We live in an unmatched period of economic growth as a result of their, not always popular, reforms.

His consensus-style of leadership is a reminder to all of us in public life that no reform, no matter how necessary, can be achieved without being upfront about the issue and convincing people that it is needed.

He will be missed but his contribution to all parts of Australian life will not be forgotten.

On behalf of those from the Illawarra who served with him, who supported him, who admired him and who met him, thank you for your extraordinary efforts Bob.