HISTORY: Bob Hawke with Bill Hayden, the man he would depose as leader.
HISTORY: Bob Hawke with Bill Hayden, the man he would depose as leader. Contributed

How Hawke stopped an Ipswich man from becoming PM

LABOR'S most popular Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Ipswich's Bill Hayden were intertwined through one of the most significant political periods in Australia's history.

Had it not been for Hawke, Ipswich would probably have had its first home-grown prime minister.

In 1983 Mr Hayden was a formidable Labor leader and tipped to be the party's first election winner since Gough Whitlam in 1972.

But on February 8, 1983 it took just 15 minutes for the Labor caucus to dump Mr Hayden for the charismatic and intelligent Hawke.

At the time Mr Hayden uttered the now poignant line; "I believe that a drover's dog could lead the Labor Party to victory".

Hawke would go on to beat on-the-nose Liberal leader Malcolm Fraser to become Australia's 23rd Prime Minister.

The Labor Prime Minister extended an olive branch to Mr Hayden, offering him the role of Australia's Governor General in 1989.

Thirty years later, it was a sombre mood on Ipswich pre-polling booths as Labor volunteers worked to see the party of Hawke re-enter the lodge.

Blair MP Shayne Neumann, who had met Hawke several times, said all Australians had thinks to thank the former PM for.

"Every time someone pulls out a Medicare card out of their wallet they should think of and thank Bob Hawke for it," he said.

"He did save the Daintree, saved the Franklin River.

"Without Bob Hawke and Paul Keating and that extraordinary cabinet and ministry team they had from 1983 onwards we wouldn't have been able to survive the global financial crisis, we wouldn't be the internationally focused country we are."

Labor volunteers held a minute silence at a meeting on Thursday night and there was a "sombre and solemn note" on the campaign today.

"Universally, it's accepted Bob Hawke was Labor's greatest peacetime prime minister," Mr Neumann said.