Last updated on November 29, 2023
Australia’s most senior politicians paid tribute to the late Bill Hayden in a condolence debate in the House of Representatives today.
Hayden died on October 21, 2023, at the age of 90.
In the presence of Hayden’s widow, Dallas, and other family members, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese spoke of the former Whitlam and Hawke government minister’s legislative achievements, including Medibank and the single mother’s pension, as well as his time as Foreign Minister and as Governor-General.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, Treasurer Jim Chalmers, National Party leader David Littleproud, and Speaker Milton Dick also spoke. Further condolences will be delivered in the Federation Chamber over coming days.
Hayden won the seat of Oxley (now held by Speaker Milton Dick) in 1961, holding it until 1988. He served as Minister for Social Security in the Whitlam government between 1972 and 1975, establising Medibank, the precursor to Medicare. In the last five months of the Whitlam government, he was Treasurer.
Hayden became leader of the Labor Party in December 1977, following the ALP’s second landslide defeat by the coalition. Today’s speakers credited him with rebuilding the party, establishing a policy agenda and constructing a governing ministry.
Hayden’s forced resignation as leader in February 1983 led to his replacement by Bob Hawke on the same day that Malcolm Fraser called an early election that he lost.
Listen to the condolences (28m):