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Hawke Denies He Is Challenging Hayden

In this encounter with journalists, Bob Hawke denied that he was challenging Bill Hayden for the ALP leadership.

The exchange includes an altercation with reporter Barrie Cassidy, of whom Hawke says “you are just being a bloody pest”.


Hawke’s comments were made on December 7, 1982. This was three days after the Liberal Party won a by-election for the Melbourne electorate of Flinders.

Caused by the retirement of Phillip Lynch, some observers thought the Liberals would struggle to hold the bayside seat. The Liberal candidate, Peter Reith, suffered a two-party swing of 2.3% but this was not enough to unseat him and he won by the same amount. The Liberal primary vote fell by 4.6% but the ALP primary vote increased by only 1.6%.

On the strength of the by-election, on February 3, 1983, Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser opted to call an early double dissolution election. On the same day, the ALP prevailed on Bill Hayden to resign the leadership and Bob Hawke was anointed as the new leader. He went on to win the March 5 election.

Barrie Cassidy subsequently became Hawke’s press secretary.

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