He was long considered a man of republican bent – a position he later denied – but having served as governor-general, he took a monarchist stand during the republican referendum of 1999, and spoke of Queen Elizabeth II as “a consoling figure” when he felt isolated.
Aged just 28, Hayden was among the youngest of Australian politicians when he entered the federal parliament as the Member for the Queensland seat of Oxley in 1961.
He retained the seat for 27 years before resigning in August 1988 to become Australia’s 21st governor-general. He served in the vice-regal role for a near-record seven years, second only to Lord Gowrie’s nine years from 1936 to 1945.
Hayden served as federal opposition leader from 1977 – when he replaced Gough Whitlam after Labor was heavily defeated in the election that year – to 1983.
His Labor Party colleagues, however, prevented him from leading the party to the 1983 election at which he believed he would have become prime minister.
Instead, the party chose Bob Hawke to replace him as leader of the opposition as the election campaign began.
It led to one of Hayden’s most famous quips: “A drover’s dog could lead the Labor Party to victory, the way the country is.” A month later, Hawke, who was angered by the comment, led Labor to a decisive victory over Malcolm Fraser’s Coalition.
Hayden, however, had long before earned his place in Australian political history when, as social security minister in the Whitlam government, he fought and won a long battle to establish Australia’s first universal health insurance system, Medibank – now known as Medicare.
Among other major reforms during that period, Hayden introduced the single mothers’ pension.
He became treasurer late in the Whitlam government’s period, replacing Jim Cairns.
Though he served in that role for only five months before the Whitlam government was dismissed, Hayden is credited by former treasurer and prime minister Paul Keating as having laid the intellectual ground for the economic reforms undertaken during the Hawke-Keating government of the 1980s.
“The antecedents of those changes, those great reforms, began with the frameworks Bill Hayden brought to the frontbench,” Keating said in the 2nd Hayden Oration delivered in 2017.
Having lost his chance to become prime minister, Hayden became Australia’s minister for foreign affairs in 1983, a position he held until he resigned from parliament in 1988.
“Without Bill Hayden’s instinctive grasp of the relationship between facing our nation to the world and securing our prosperity for the future, the government in which he served might not have achieved the same degree of engagement in our region that still benefits Australia today,” Albanese said.
William George (Bill) Hayden was born into the end of Great Depression on January 23, 1933, one of four children of George Hayden, then 52, and his wife, Violet (formerly Quinn), a young widow.
The family experienced hardship and poverty, and Hayden’s first year of life was spent with his family in a boarding house.
Young BiIl Hayden completed high school in Brisbane in 1949, aged 16, thanks to winning a scholarship.
He joined the Queensland Police Force in 1953 – a move that saw him refused membership of the Communist Party of Australia, though in his much later years his views became progressively more conservative.
Albanese attributed Hayden’s police experiences to one of his major social reforms.
“As a former police officer who understood that poverty too often trapped women in violent relationships, Bill introduced Australia’s first single mother’s pension,” Albanese said.
Albanese said that through all the ups and downs of Hayden’s career, “Bill Hayden never lost his sense of humour.”
“Crucially, he never lost his faith in our party’s capacity to change the country for the better, he never doubted Australia’s ability to make a difference in the world and the work he did in the service of these causes will never be forgotten,” the prime minister said.
Former Labor leader Bill Shorten described Hayden as “a Labor giant” who believed in a classless welfare system in which anyone who needed government payments was not stigmatised.
Hayden is survived by his wife of 63 years, Dallas, their children, Georgina, Ingrid and Kirk, and grandchildren.
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https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/bill-hayden-giant-of-the-labor-party-and-legend-of-the-labour-movement-20231021-p5ee0a.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national Bill Hayden, giant of the Labor Party and legend of the labour movement