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20th anniversary of the Hawke government

Assessing the Hawke government, seriously

Tony Moore

This month (March 2003) a political anniversary of national significance is reached. It marks 20 years since the election of the first Hawke Labor government. It was an election that ushered in 13 years of Federal Labor rule and five winning elections.

To mark the 20th anniversary, Pluto Press will release The Hawke Government: A Retrospective, in August 2003. This book, which is edited by Susan Ryan and Troy Bramston, promises to pull no punches.

It's time that the Hawke government was re-evaluated in terms of its transformation of Australia, and its success in securing electoral support for massive economic and social change.

The national significance is considerable. Bob Hawke is Labor's longest serving Prime Minister and Australia's second longest serving Prime Minister since Federation. This period was, and still is, enormously significant for the Australian Labor Party and for Australia. It marked Labor's longest period in office.

The Hawke period featured a number of important policy achievements which forever changed the face of Australia. The government ushered in many notable achievements in health, education, economic management, the environment and indigenous affairs.

As the below outline demonstrates, the book is an edited collection of chapters from a who's who of writers in the fields of politics, academia and the media.

The Hawke Government: Outline

Introduction by Susan Ryan & Troy Bramston

Part One - The Hawke Era and Political Style

* Bob Hawke, Australian politics and managing change: an overview Craig McGregor (writer, journalist and academic)

* The rise of Bob Hawke Michael Gordon (National Editor with The Age)

* Hawke and the Australian people: the love affair with the electorate and the media Amanda Buckley (former Canberra Press Gallery journalist)

* Hawke's Opposition: from Malcolm Fraser to John Hewson Dr Gerard Henderson (Executive Director of the Sydney Institute)

* The Hawke model: Hawke's political leadership style and approach Troy Bramston (co-editor and postgraduate student, School of Politics and International Relations, UNSW)

Part Two - Managing Government

* The Hawke Cabinet Dr Neal Blewett (former Cabinet Minister)

* Hawke the communicator Graham Freudenberg (former speech writer for Bob Hawke and other ALP leaders)

* Hawke the campaigner Bob Hogg (former National Secretary of the ALP)

* Hawke and consensus: corporatism, stakeholders and government Tony Moore (Publisher, Pluto Press)

Part Three - Policy and the Hawke Government

* Economic reform a barrel of thrills and spills Alan Mitchell (Economics Editor with the Australian Financial Review) with David Bassanese (Economics Analyst with the Australian Financial Review)

* The economy: a perspective from the inside Ralph Willis (former Cabinet Minister)

* The economy: a perspective from the outside Professor Frank Stilwell (School of Economics and Political Science, University of Sydney)

* Employment, industry and regional development John Button (former Cabinet Minister)

* The environment Phillip Toyne (former Executive Director of the Australian Conservation Foundation, 1986-92, and Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of the Environment, 1994-97) and Simon Balderstone (former Hawke adviser)

* Education, training and youth affairs Professor Simon Marginson (Professor, Faculty of Education, Monash University)

* Women Susan Ryan (former Cabinet Minister)

* Health Professor Stephen Duckett (Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, La Trobe University)

* Social policy from the outside Julian Disney (former President of ACOSS)

* Social policy from the inside: restraint with equity Brian Howe (former Cabinet Minister and Deputy Prime Minister)

* Arts and cultural policy Di Yerbury (Vice Chancellor of Macquarie University)

* Primary industry John Kerin (former Cabinet Minister and head of Meat and Livestock Australia)

* Transport, communications and media policy Anne Davies (Urban Affairs Editor with the Sydney Morning Herald, former Press Gallery journalist)

* Aboriginal affairs and reconciliation Professor Marcia Langton (Professor of Australian Indigenous Studies, University of Melbourne)

* Immigration, multiculturalism and racism Professor Mary Kalantzis (Dean of Faculty of Education, RMIT University)

* The Accord, industrial relations and the trade union movement Bill Kelty (former Secretary of the ACTU)

* Foreign affairs, trade and defence policy Kim Beazley (former Cabinet Minister and Leader of the Opposition)

* The public sector and the public service Dr Michael Keating (Visiting Fellow, Economics Program, ANU and former Secretary of PM&C)

* The institutions of governance: Parliament, the Executive, the Judiciary and law reform David Bradbury (lawyer with Blake Dawson Waldron and former Mayor of Penrith City Council)

Part Four - Reflections and Assessments

* The Hawke government and the Labor tradition Dr David Day (Research Fellow, La Trobe University)

* The Hawke government: an assessment from the outside Geoff Kitney (Political Editor with the Sydney Morning Herald)

* The Hawke government: an assessment from the inside Barry Jones (former Minister and National President of the ALP)

Conclusion Susan Ryan and Troy Bramston


* Bibliographic essay Professor John Warhurst (Professor, Political Science Discipline, The Australian National University) and Jim Chalmers (postgraduate student at ANU and also Research Officer with the ALP Secretariat)

* Election results, Ministries and Cabinets Troy Bramston

The launch

The remarkable list of contributors that have been gathered by Susan Ryan and Troy Bramston promises to produce the definitive work on these remarkable years. In conjuction with the Australian Labor Party and the ACTU, Pluto Press is planning a series of high profile launches in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne in September. Events in Canberra will include a one day seminar organised by the Australian National University and an ALP dinner hosted by the ACT Chief Minister, with Bob Hawke as guest speaker on the evening of September 11. Following this there will be launches in Sydney and Melbourne. We've all read the instant history in the press this month - Pluto will shortly bring you the real thing.


Tony Mooore is the Publisher of Pluto Press and a member of the Evatt Foundation's Executive Committee.


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