Bob Hawke’s granddaughter Sophie Taylor-Price vows to carry on climate action legacy

“He saw it as a collective failure of our nation that we have traded short-term interests over intergenerational equality,” Ms Taylor-Price said to warm applause.


“These past months, he expressed such great sadness that we have failed to (take action).”

Ms Taylor-Price said she grew up “in the shadow of a giant,” who had inspired her to carry on his legacy, pushing the country to take a greater stand on climate action.

“He would say that the foundations of excuses we cling to are fragile and will inevitably collapse,” a senior climate change and sustainability manager at Ernst and Young said.

“We must stop delaying the cost of change now for all we do is load our future citizens with a debt that they cannot repay.”

Ms Taylor-Price said one of Mr Hawke’s most enduring legacies was his work to prevent mining in the Antarctic in the late 1980s.

Bob Hawke and Paul Keating at the premiers conference at Parliament House in 1991.Credit:Peter Morris

Faced with a convention signed by dozens of Antarctic Treaty nations to allow mining of the area, Mr Hawke responded “bugger that,” according to Ms Taylor-Price.

“He was horrified. Refusing to sign, Bob courted the world with an ideal for something greater, better and fairer,” she said.

Australia needed to take heart from the courage her grandfather showed then, and “borrow his optimism and mirror his love for the brotherhood of humankind,” Ms Taylor-Price said.

“It speaks of true leadership and his willingness to be unpopular and to listen to unpopular truths.”

She acknowledged the plethora of tributes to her grandfather, but said Australia’s 23rd prime minister would only be “truly” honoured if people reflected on his achievements and applied his values to future decision making.

“Let us listen to the children and young people who parade their courage and conviction because their tomorrows will be affected by our actions today,” Ms Taylor-Price said said.

Hundreds outside on the Opera House steps for Bob Hawke memorial service.

Hundreds outside on the Opera House steps for Bob Hawke memorial service.Credit:Nick Moir

Mr Hawke’s ongoing passion and conviction for climate action and social justice was also touched upon by former trade union leader Bill Kelty.

“Bob was always – always – about those two things and when we went to see him, in his last weeks of life, he was still about the treaty with the first Australians, he was still about climate change,” Mr Kelty said.

“It was the consistency with which you’d find him, his undiluted belief in the power of an education, his undiluted belief in power of democracy, his belief in the ALP and this thing he called Australia, not a democracy, but a belief.”

Bob and Hazel Hawke leaving the Opera House in 1983.

Bob and Hazel Hawke leaving the Opera House in 1983. Credit:Paul Matthews

Ms Taylor-Price said Mr Hawke had grown into a “gruff old bugger” at times.

She wondered what he may make of the crowd gathered in the Opera House’s great hall, spilling over its steps outside to pay tribute to a man who newly appointed Labor leader Anthony Albonese described as “Australia amplified”.

“I imagine that if he were here today, he would look at me with love and with fierce pride and with a twinkle in his eye, say in his grumpy old man voice ‘Well, get on with it then’.”

Tom Rabe is a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald

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