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Hawke Government: 1985

January / February / March / April / May / June / August / September / October / November

1985 newspaper collage [Image Source: unknown]Bob Hawke had a charmed run in his first term as prime minister, but in his second he faces a period of extreme turbulence Richard Farmer in The Bulletin, February 12, 1985.

The Hawke government began its second term in office faced with the prospect of not really being able to govern as it confronted a Senate facing the possibility of a double dissolution.

In July Prime Minister Hawke entered the tax debate with renewed verve and flair at a point when opinion polls indicated that the Prime Minister and his government were at a low point. At mid year his personal popularity as measured by the Morgan Gallup had dropped almost a third and Liberal Leader Andrew Peacock out rated him for the first time.

At the tax summit in July Bob Hawke extracted an ACTU undertaking not to press for wage rises based on the devaluation of the dollar in return for changes to the governments tax reform proposals. Plans for a consumption tax on goods became part of the Hawke governments agenda and the state of the economy with high interest rates and overseas debt dominated the political debate from mid year.

A search for the design of a new flag for Australia commenced with The Bulletin as one of the major sponsors and the suggestion of an Australia Card as a national identification system created controversy.

In August the AUSSAT satellite, Australias major new communications satellite, was launched at a point 36 000 kilometres above the equator and 160 degrees east, north of the Solomon Islands.

A stronger Australia-American alliance emerged from the furore over New Zealands nuclear warship ban and to help retain the younger voter, a policy initiative to develop employment schemes for the nations youth was introduced as part of the newly formed Office of Education and Youth Affairs and welfare became the biggest item in the federal budget.

In September John Howard replaced Andrew Peacock as Liberal Party Leader and in the South Australian elections in December the Bannon ALP government was returned.


JANUARY

Hawke Stirs the ANZUS Waters by Grattan, Michelle

The Age, January 28, 1985: The Prime Minister Bob Hawke wrote to New Zealand Prime Minister David Lange on January 27 in reference to New Zealands ban on the visits of nuclear-powered or armed warships to New Zealands ports; a ban which would stop visits of United States ships. We could not accept as a permanent arrangement that the ANZUS alliance had a difference meaning, and entailed different obligations, for different members, he declared. Speculation followed on the impact of New Zealands actions as to the future of the ANZUS treaty, including moves toward renegotiaton and transformation to a bi-lateral US-Australia pact, and future retaliatory actions toward New Zealand by the United States.


FEBRUARY

Hawke Labor Furore Causes PM to Reconsider by Costigan, Peter

The Herald, February 5, 1985: In an extraordinary announcement at a press conference in Brussels on the eve of his visit to Washington the Prime Minister backed away from a firm commitment for Australia to help the United States monitor MX intercontinental ballistic missile tests. Back in Australia feelings against the tests were growing into the most serious political fallout the Government had faced since taking office in 1983.

Hawke newspaper cartoon [Image Source: unknown]The Age, February 6, 1985: Following the February 1 agreement to a request from the United States Government to permit backup facilities for testing two MX missiles in Australia, Bob Hawke prepared to make an announcement of withdrawal to United States President Ronald Reagan during a nine day trip to Belgium and the United States where the future of the ANZUS treaty was to be the main topic for discussion.

Defence Crisis: Hawkes Job on the Line by Farmer, Richard

The Bulletin, February 19, 1985: The decision to renege on the politically sensitive agreement in light of the recent ANZUS crisis was made after Mr. Hawkes consultation with Labor Party colleagues and the result of inter-party dissent and rebellion.


MARCH

Rules of the Game Changed Forever by Costigan, Peter

The Herald, March 5, 1985: In one of Prime Minister Hawkes most serious public performances at a press conference, he stated the ANZUS Treaty to be inoperative and agreed that labelling ANZUS as a treaty in name only was not an unfair description soon after cancelling the 1985 meeting of the Council. While the Prime Minister insisted that Australia would not tell the sovereign nation of New Zealand what to do, though also taking care to observe that he did not believe New Zealand was unaware of the consequences of its decision to ban American warships, New Zealand Prime Minister David Lange accused Australia cancelling the ANZUS meeting because the United States told it to.


APRIL

PM gets Pledge on Confidentiality by Oakes, Laurie

The Bulletin, April 9, 1855, p 27: After concerns about the protection of civil liberties brought on by the Age Tapes inquiry, Prime Minister Bob Hawke extracted firm assurances from Justice Donald Steward, Head of the National Crime Authority that phone tap material unrelated to criminal activities would not be made public. This followed Justice Stewarts conviction that the chance of imprisoning a prominent organised crime leader, reputedly responsible for thousands of drug-related deaths, would be greatly increased by granting police indemnity to phone tapping.

Visit by the General-Secretary of the Communist Party of China

The Australian Foreign Affairs Bulletin, Vol. 56, No. 4, April 1985, p 309: The General-Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CCP), Mr. Hu Yaobang, accompanied by the Permanent Secretary of the CCP Secretariat, Mr Hu Qili, and a party of 60 officials and media representatives, visited Australia between 13 14 April travelling to Perth, Paraburdoo, Whyalla, Canberra and Sydney. Prime Minister Bob Hawke met Secretary-General Hu on his arrival in Perth, and accompanied him through the visit to Paraburdoo and Whyalla.

Prime Minister Hawke hosts a Parliamentary luncheon in honour of Mr Hu Yaobang

Deputy Prime Minister Lionel Bowen, Mr Hawke and Finance Minister John Dawkins, with Mr Hu Yao Bang of China [Image Source: unknown]Mr Hawke greets the visitors, and discusses Chinese economic reforms especially in the area of agriculture. He notes common interests between China and Australia in the Asia Pacific region and stresses the need for improved regional dialogue.

Im in control, asserts Hawke

The Australian, April 11, 1985 page 1: The Prime Minister in an interview on The National television program asserted that he and Treasurer Paul Keating were in full control of the political and economic agenda and that Australias economic performance was better than ever.

Bitter and black days for Neal Blewett Smith, Jane

Hawke hospital cartoon  [Image Source: Mark Lynch]The Bulletin, April 16, 1985.p 30: The Prime Minister and Minister for Health, Dr. Neal Blewett, agreed to promise additional funding for specific public hospitals to purchase items of equipment over the following three years following the 1981 ending of federal-state hospital cost sharing. This followed doctors resignations from public hospitals dating back to January 1985 following disputes centring on doctors claims that they had lost income since the introduction of Medicare because of a fall in numbers of privately insured patients.

Hawke facing High Noon Costigan, Peter

The Herald, April 19, 1985: The Prime Minister moves carefully into involvement in the Queensland power workers dispute, caused by Queensland Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersens tough anti-union legislation passed by the Queensland Parliament. Sir Bjelke-Petersen rejected contact by the Prime Minister proposing that he and the ACTU leaders met with the Premier to seek a solution.


MAY

Whatever the Tax Choice, Hawke Faces Huge Bill Grattan, Michelle

Hawke Tax Choice cartoon  [Image Source: Mark Lynch]The Age, May 13, 1985: Cabinet began consideration of a draft white paper of proposed major taxation changes. The public expressed doubts about the introduction of an indirect tax, the proposed consumption tax and the ACTUs disorder on tax.


JUNE

University to Honor Hawke

Mercury, June 4, 1985: The Prime Minister is awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree by the University of New South Wales to be conferred in the 1986 graduation season in recognition of his most distinguished contribution to the government and social development of Australia. Only about 50 people have received honorary degrees since the Universitys inception in 1948. Mr. Hawke is already an honorary fellow of University College, Oxford, and has an honorary degree of letters from the University of Western Australia.


AUGUST

Prime Minister Hawke and Hazel Hawke with the Prime Minister of Fiji, Sir Kamisese Mara

South Pacific Forum, August 1985


SEPTEMBER

What the government and the unions agreed on

The Age, September 5, 1985: The Government and the Australian Council of Trade Unions reaches agreement on wage discounting and the future of the prices and incomes accord. The government agreement included that they would not oppose a claim for a wage increase at the national wage case hearing, that personal tax reductions would come into effect in September 1984 and that the prices and incomes accord would continue for another two years.

Hawke ID cartoon  [Image Source: Mark Lynch]Keating softens tax blow

The Australian, September 20 1985: Treasurer Paul Keating announces the governments tax reform package and stated that the reforms would lead to a return of more tax revenue to tax payers than would be raised from the new taxes. Reform package suggests the introduction of an identity card from March 1987.

PM firm as States begin protest at perks tax

Weekend Australia, September 28-29, 1985 page 3: Prime Minister Bob Hawke responds to some State Premiers who stated they would try to avoid paying tax on State government employees fringe benefits.


OCTOBER

Hawke announces sweeping business regulation changes Short, John

The Australian, October 30,1985: Prime Minister announces that foreign investment guidelines are to be substantially eased and export mining controls would eventually be abolished. He also gave a commitment to continue the business deregulation, of which the foreign investment changes were a part.


NOVEMBER

Trying to get one past...

14th November 1985: The Government of Prime Minister Hawke is under fire as in the space of ten months the Australian dollar drops in value by 25%, with the Trade Weighted Index going from 80.8 points to 60.3. With the dollar taking such a beating desperate measures are called for by the Prime Minister with Treasurer Paul Keating holding the ball.