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Prime Minister-elect Bob Hawke’s Election Night Press Conference

Before Bob Hawke made a triumphant appearance in the National Tally Room on election night – March 5, 1983 – he first held a sober press conference in which he made clear how he intended to govern.

Decades later, Hawke’s first remarks as Prime Minister-elect are instructive. He made it clear that he did not intend to repeat Gough Whitlam’s two-man government of December 1972. Reassurance, calm and steadiness are the hallmarks of his comments. Hawke’s determination to prove that Labor could govern responsibly was never more clear than in this press conference.

Hawke’s comments to Tasmanian voters are also worth noting. Whilst the country as whole swung to Labor, Tasmania swung to the Coalition and the ALP failed to retake any of the five seats it lost in 1975. The main cause of this was Labor’s policy on stopping the construction of the Franklin Dam. Hawke’s government took the issue to the High Court which ruled that the dam could be stopped using the treaty power of the Commonwealth.

  • Watch Hawke’s election night press conference (11m)
  • Listen to Hawke (11m)
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Malcolm Farnsworth
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