Senate debates

Tuesday, 28 November 2023


Hayden, Hon. William George (Bill), AC

3:59 pm

Photo of Larissa WatersLarissa Waters (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I rise on behalf of the Australian Greens to associate myself with the remarks already made and to contribute to the condolence for the Hon. Bill Hayden AC. Political historian Paul Kelly described Bill Hayden as having a uniquely Queensland sense of style:

… the man being projected as the alternative prime minister would just stroll into his Ipswich barber; Dallas—

his wife—

would buy his shirts at the local shops; Hayden would appear on television with his uniquely Queensland sense of colour contrast: open-necked blue, white and pale blue sports outfits.

He served as social security minister from 1972 to 1975, introducing ambitious reforms, including the single parent pension, then known as the single mothers pension, and Medibank, Australia's first attempt at providing universal health care before its later abolition by the Fraser government.

After the 1975 landslide election, Bill Hayden was left as the only Labor MP in Queensland. As someone who served as the only Greens MP from my state, also Queensland, up until very recently, I know well the challenges that must have come with that moment. He served as Leader of the Opposition from 1977 to 1983, and, while the Greens have not always agreed with the direction that the Labor Party took after Whitlam, he prepared Labor for a return to government under Bob Hawke. As foreign affairs minister in the Hawke government, he was a leader in reevaluating Australia's place in the world, including the pivot to Asia, promoting a Cambodian peace plan and subjecting the ANZUS Treaty to a lengthy review, something we are well overdue for again.

According to Paul Keating, Bill Hayden believed that the country's interest should include a moral duty, embracing such things as human rights, world poverty, arms control and the resolution of conflict. He balanced competing interest in order to push us to a better world, and for that reason he is a giant of the Labor Party.

In his final role in public life, Bill Hayden, despite being a republican, served with distinction is Governor-General from 1989 to 1995. He lived a life of politics, and, whether on universal health care, supporting single parents or Australia's role in the world, his legacy lives on. That mix of courage and humility is one that we should all seek to replicate.

I acknowledge his family here in the gallery today. To his wife, Dallas, and to his surviving children, Georgina, Ingrid and Kirk, we pay our respects, and we acknowledge his remarkable life and a life of service. Vale, Bill Hayden.


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