Bob Hawke was a genuine man of the people.
It didn’t matter who you were, where you lived or what you did, Bob treated everyone the same.
I first met him when I was in school and he treated me exactly the same as he did many years later when I became Premier.
I’ll treasure the memory of being with Bob on Labour Day in the birthplace of the Labor Party in Barcaldine.
Bob was too unwell to march and was pushed in his wheelchair.
But when the march came to its end at the showgrounds I’ll never forget the way Bob got out of that chair, walked onstage and addressed the crowd. He was such a magnificent and inspirational speaker.
And in that same, strong, clear voice so familiar to us, he sang Solidarity Forever.
Bob fought fiercely for things, not against them.
He called it consensus. I describe it as working best when we work together.
Bob loved the Woodford Folk Festival and its celebration of ideas. He told me to look after it and I will.
And then we said goodbye.
I didn’t realise it would be for the last time.
“I don’t think I’ll be back,” Bob said.
Then this man who I had respected and admired for almost my entire life looked at me and smiled.
“Just keep doing what you’re doing.”
The loss we feel is a measure of how much he meant to all of us.
Vale Bob Hawke.