When Bob Hawke died in 2019, two days before the federal election, many mainstream commentators took the opportunity to remind the prime ministerial hopefuls that in terms of charisma, persuasiveness and popularity they didn’t exactly measure up to the example of the Silver Bodgie. While the circumstances made direct comparisons difficult, there was no doubt that many of the obituaries had an ‘end of an era’ energy about them (the Keating legacy notwithstanding)—a sense that in point of policy and personality we would not look upon his like again. In an interview with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, ABC Radio National’s Fran Kelly went about as far as she could without explicitly calling out his party’s campaign as a dud:
Bob Hawke was also a leader of passion, of big ideas, of vision. Paul Keating said today, Bob Hawke understood imagination was central to policy-making and never lacked the courage to do what it takes to turn that imagination into reality. He won four elections. Does that suggest to you that voters reward those who have vision, who are not afraid to be a big target?
I won’t bother reproducing Frydenberg’s answer. Suffice it to say that it furnished Kelly’s listeners with a good demonstration of her underlying point. [More here.]