Senate debates

Tuesday, 28 November 2023


Hayden, Hon. William George (Bill), AC

4:09 pm

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to speak with heartfelt and sincere condolences on the passing of Bill Hayden. I note that his family is in the gallery today, which is very hard. I had the privilege of attending the state funeral for this giant of Australian politics, the Hon. Bill Hayden AC.

Bill Hayden was at various times the Treasurer of Australia, the Leader of the Opposition, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and, of course, one of the country's longest serving governors-general. He was a senior figure of the Australian Labor Party at the time of one of its great triumphs, the 1972 election of the Whitlam government, and at the time of one of its worst disasters, the dismissal.

He duly won the leadership of the ALP after the 1977 election and, in 1980, recovered much of the furniture Labor had lost. He came within a whisker of leading Labor to the 1983 election. That moment in 1983 defined Bill Hayden's great character and the example he set for many future political leaders of Australia. He resigned his leadership for the good of his party, clearing the way for Bob Hawke and Paul Keating to lead Labor to the party's longest period in government.

We politicians are an ambitious lot, but Bill Hayden sacrificed his ambition for what he believed was for the good of his country. I remember being disappointed at the change in Labor's leadership. I was very young at the time, but I saw snippets of it on TV. I thought, 'I like that man,' and I was looking forward to him being the Prime Minister of Australia. We'll never know what sort of Prime Minister he might have been, but I think Bill could have been a very good one.

Both Bob Hawke and Paul Keating owe their prime ministerships to Bill Hayden—Hawke because he stepped aside and Keating because Hayden made him shadow Treasurer, a position he continued under Hawke. Keating returned that favour when he advocated a second term for Bill Hayden as Governor-General. My connection with Bill Hayden is that he was also the member for Oxley, serving in the electorate for almost 27 years, the very same seat that I won as an Independent in 1996, approximately eight years after Bill Hayden vacated the seat in 1988. Twenty-seven years was quite a bit longer than my time in the position, which began only a month or so after he resigned as Australia's Governor-General.

I will always be proudly grateful that, early in my term, Bill took the time to come and meet with me in the electorate office. It was a great honour. He loved Ipswich, where he served as a police officer and where he established his first family home with his lovely wife, Dallas. He knew it so well. Bill spoke to me about the issues which brought me into the national spotlight. Just reflect on that, when my staff told me that Bill Hayden was coming to meet me in my office, I was shocked, surprised and grateful. I always saw him as a man I looked up to and respected. He was also a man who loved Ipswich. When I heard that he won the seat because he doorknocked every house, I knew he had been determined to win and had something to offer the parliament. He wasn't a career politician; he was a man who had a mission to represent the people of Australia. As I said, he stepped aside for Bob Hawke. He could have been the Prime Minister of this country. We'll never know. But that tells you the calibre of the man. We spoke on issues. I especially remember when I raised multiculturalism and immigration and, actually, he agreed with me. He said, 'We are all Australians.' He didn't believe in the division it was causing. When I reflect on that time, it was an honour and a privilege to be at his funeral. On either side of me were two of his former ministers and another behind me who all worked with him when he was leader of the Labor Party, so I was surrounded, in some ways, by the Indians, I suppose, but it was good to have a good conversation with them about the respect that they had for this man. I have to say, being there, I was very impressed with Paul Keating and the comments he made on that day at the funeral. He showed humility, gratitude, appreciation for Bill Hayden. I learnt a lot. I appreciate the man a lot more for what he has done and achieved for the people of Australia and this parliament, so I'm very pleased to be able to say these few words today and remember this man that we all should look up to for what he achieved and contributed to this parliament and to Australia.


No comments