Last night’s Bob Hawke interview was certainly worth a look, and now you can read, hear, or see it too from that link. Hawke was PM of Australia for nine years.
ANDREW DENTON: How intoxicating is the excitement of being in office, of having the Prime Ministership?
BOB HAWKE: I think it’s probably like when you start drinking. I mean you get more easily intoxicated in the beginning and it’s more exciting but certainly on that first day when you wake up and say, “I’m Prime Minister” it’s an exhilarating feeling but the reality is Andrew that the weight of work, the sheer intensity and volume of the things that you have to deal with doesn’t leave much room for exhilaration.
ANDREW DENTON: How do you deal with the actual and emotional intensity of a position like that?
BOB HAWKE: Well by making sure it’s not the work of one man. Look at the duration with Carter, President Carter. Insisted on supervising who was going to be using the White House tennis court. Come on. I mean it’s a question of prioritisation and delegation and if you haven’t got that capacity for prioritisation and delegation then you’ll be on the road to the bin.
ANDREW DENTON: What in your view is the essence of power?
BOB HAWKE: Well the essence of power is the knowledge that what you do is going to have an effect not just an immediate but perhaps a lifelong effect on the happiness and wellbeing of millions of people and so I think the essence of power is to be conscious of what it can mean for others. One of the great things about being Prime Minister was that hardly a day would go by at the end of which you didn’t have the knowledge that you’d been able to do something. It may only have been from one person or may have been from the country as a whole or even might have been an international thing but you’d been able to do something which you thought was going to make someone or a lot of people better off or happier.
Could that be a message to Kevin Rudd?
ANDREW DENTON: From observation it is both a brutal and brutalising experience being in politics. What is the effect of that over a long period of time?
BOB HAWKE: Obviously when Paul [Keating] challenged me and finally won we weren’t bosom buddies. We didn’t get into lengthy social intercourse for some time but we’re friends now and he’s coming to dinner here shortly so I think it differs for different people. Some people, when they have a fight, it becomes personally bitter and lasting but there’s no reason why that should be so and looking back on it I mean I don’t can’t remember any you know fights that I had that finished up with lasting enemies.
ANDREW DENTON: I’m surprised to learn for instance that Paul is coming to dinner because a lot of people do succumb in life in all walks of life to bitterness. They latch onto an argument and they won’t let it go.
BOB HAWKE: Yeah well you see hated and envy are the most corrosive elements in life. I mean you look at people I see people destroyed or enormously diminished by envy and by hatred. It’s I mean life is short.