LOCAL Labor candidate Andrew Woodward has given a heartfelt tribute to former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who passed away on May 16, aged 89.
The Bellingen-based Mr Woodward is contesting the seat of Cowper at the Federal Election, but like so many others, has paused to reflect on the contributions of Labor's longest serving Prime Minister.
"In my 30 years as a senior political journalist and later as a member of the Labor Party, I had many encounters with Bob Hawke. I saw him at the top of his game as PM," Mr Woodward said.
"I also saw him at the other end of the spectrum, helping and mentoring Labor candidates and acting as a guardian of the party.
"In any of these capacities, he brought with him the same vigour, passion and intellect that he is famous for.
"But more than anything else, he was a top bloke who gave his time freely to anyone."
Mr Woodward noted the irony that he had come 'full circle' - in one of the legacies of Mr Hawke.
"Bob was someone who indoctrinated me with the need to care for the environment," Mr Woodward said.
"I remember as a journalist in 1989 when I was a bureau chief at Parliament House in Canberra, travelling with Mr Hawke to Wentworth where he announced a Labor Government would plant one billion trees to deal with soil erosion.
"That struck a chord with me and here I am 30 years on actively campaigning on initiatives similar to this.
"Thanks Bob. Good on you, mate."
President of the Camden Haven branch of the Labor Party Peter Alley met Mr Hawke during the 1983 election campaign when he was then opposition leader.
Mr Alley was a 22-year-old university student living in Sydney at the time.
"He was a person who was so full of passion for the Australian community," Mr Alley said.
It was a time when there was great energy and hope for the future.Peter Alley
The meeting was a formative moment in Mr Alley's life.
Shortly after he joined the Australian Labor Party.
Mr Alley believes Mr Hawke's legacy is far-reaching.
"His legacy is the economic reforms that were brought about during that era in terms of floating the Australian dollar, the reductions in company tax rates, the introduction of imputation credits throughout that era and creating a much fairer tax system.
"He also reached out and embraced the community and worked with his colleagues, business, unions and industry to create a fairer Australia."