Vale Bob Hawke

Bob Hawke. Image courtesy Labor.
Bob Hawke. Image courtesy Labor.

Health stakeholders have paid tribute to Bob Hawke, with the Guild highlighting his key role in universal health care for Australians

On Thursday, the former Prime Minister’s wife, Blanche d’Alpuget, announced that Mr Hawke had passed away peacefully at his home.

The Pharmacy Guild issued a statement saying that Mr Hawke had been a leader who understood the importance of community pharmacy to the health and wellbeing of Australian communities.

Guild National President George Tambassis said Mr Hawke had helped Australia realise the concept of universal health care through the introduction of Medicare.

As Prime Minister Mr Hawke also guided the development and implementation of the First Community Pharmacy Agreement, and those agreements continue to be the foundation of the community pharmacy industry today, he said.

“This universality of access introduced with Medicare is a key principle of the healthcare sector in Australia, particularly community pharmacy, and Bob Hawke was an early driver of this,” Mr Tambassis said.

“The relationship between the Guild and Mr Hawke was robust and we certainly did not agree at times.

“In fact, in Mr Hawke’s own words to a Guild Annual General Meeting in 1990: ‘Over the last 12 months the Federal Government and the Pharmacy Guild had something of a blue and it was a beauty’.

“But Mr Hawke continued to be a strong supporter of community pharmacy and recognised just how important a viable community pharmacy sector is to the country.

“He leaves a great legacy, not only in health but in nearly all areas of everyday life in Australia. On behalf of the Guild I extend our condolences and sympathy to his family. ”

Former Guild president Colin Johns OAM, who led the Guild during much of Mr Hawke’s time in politics – including during the Pharmacy Dispute of 1989-90 – said he was very saddened to hear of the former PM’s death.

“We had a close working relationship while he was PM,” Mr Johns said. “Mr Hawke had a clear understanding of the Guild’s position and the political realities of the issues, and had the rare ability to engender trust and to develop practical outcomes to the difficult matters prevailing at the time.

“We became good friends after the Pharmacy Dispute. Bob’s personal assistant Peter Reid, a close friend of mine, told Bob: ‘See, you can trust Colin.’

“He was a great PM, wonderful to work with, who understood community pharmacy.

“I once told him that the PGA is a union and that you understand how unions work.”

Mr Johns said the Pharmacy Guild and the pharmacy profession owed a debt of gratitude to Mr Hawke for his contribution to the development of the Pharmacy Agreement and the resultant outcomes.

“Our sincere sympathies to Mr Hawke’s family,” he said.

National president of the PSA, Dr Chris Freeman, said that on behalf of PSA and its members, he recognised the pivotal role Bob Hawke played in establishing Australia’s world-class healthcare system, and extended his condolences to his family and the Australian Labor Party.

“Through the implementation of Medicare Mr Hawke gave Australians universal and unprecedented access to healthcare,” Dr Freeman said.

“He was not only a champion of healthcare, but of the professionals who provide these services. In acknowledging the vital role of pharmacists he set the groundwork for many of the agreements and programs we have in place today.

“Mr Hawke leaves behind many enduring legacies which changed the Australian health landscape for the better.”

SHPA Chief Executive Kristin Michaels said Bob Hawke’s unique legacy and impact continue to benefit Australians.

“Bob Hawke led with passion, creativity and commitment, building consensus for important health reforms. Under his leadership, important discussions to end fragmentation in healthcare began, including the release of The Australian Health Jigsaw – Integration of Health Care Delivery in 1991.

 “Its themes and issues around the Commonwealth and the states continue to dominate health policy discussions, while sowing the seeds for increased Commonwealth funding of state-run public hospitals.”

The Australian Medical Association issued a statement saying it was mourning the passing of the former PM.

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said that Mr Hawke was a larger-than-life figure who earned a national and international reputation as a reformer and humanitarian.

“One of his biggest reforms was establishing Medicare in the 1980s,” Dr Bartone said.

“The bedding down of Medicare throughout the 1980s created tensions and disagreements between the Hawke Government and the AMA and other medical groups, but Bob Hawke and his Ministers remained engaged with the AMA and heard the concerns and recommendations of the profession.

“Using his well-honed industrial skills, Mr Hawke would regularly personally get involved in talks and negotiations with the AMA and the broader medical profession.

“Medicare has evolved over the last 30 years and is still here today as part of a world-class universal health system that is loved by the Australian people and supports their access to Australia’s doctors.

“Medicare is just one of many significant reforms initiated by Bob Hawke. It is a legacy that has touched the lives of every Australian.”

Previous Voltaren marketing breached consumer law
Next The week in review

NOTICE: It can sometimes take awhile for comment submissions to go through, please be patient.


  1. Tony Lee

    I will never forget the Pharmacy Dispute when Hawke decided to decimate pharmacy (and pilots). Had he succeeded my business & many others would have folded with my staff out of work. You do not forget it.
    The Guild organized pharmacists from the bunker, gathering public opinion and running one of the most successful campaigns in pharmacy & political history.

    • Gavin Mingay

      And yet, in this campaign, the Guild appears to have been supporting the Labor Party… Hard to understand what they were offering pharmacy, especially pharmacy owners, above what the other parties were giving…

      • They were just backing the likely winners. Now that Hunt is back, it is very interesting times indeed.

        Hunt already shown numerous times to defy the Guild and shown favour to the PSA. A sign of the changing of the times?

Leave a reply