Hawke in 1923
|18th Premier of Western Australia|
23 February 1953 – 2 April 1959
|Governor||Sir Charles Gairdner|
|Preceded by||Sir Ross McLarty|
|Succeeded by||David Brand|
|Leader of the Labor Party
in Western Australia
26 June 1951 – 31 December 1966
|Preceded by||Frank Wise|
|Succeeded by||John Tonkin|
|Member of the Legislative Assembly
of Western Australia
24 April 1933 – 23 March 1968
|Preceded by||Sir James Mitchell|
|Succeeded by||Ken McIver|
|Member of the House of Assembly
of South Australia
5 April 1924 – 26 March 1927
|Preceded by||George Jenkins|
|Succeeded by||George Jenkins|
3 December 1900|
Kapunda, South Australia, Australia
|Died||14 February 1986
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Albert Redvers George "Bert" Hawke (3 December 1900 – 14 February 1986) was the 18th Premier of Western Australia. He served from 23 February 1953 to 2 April 1959, and represented the Labor Party. His nephew, Bob Hawke, became Prime Minister of Australia.
Hawke was born in South Australia, and began his political career in that state, winning a seat in the House of Assembly at the 1924 state election. He was only 23 at the time, making him the youngest MP in South Australia's history. Hawke lost his seat at the 1927 election, and moved to Western Australia the following year. At the 1933 state election in Western Australia, which saw a Labor landslide, he unexpectedly defeated the sitting Nationalist premier, Sir James Mitchell, in the seat of Northam.
In May 1936, Hawke became a minister in the government of Philip Collier. He later also served as a minister in the governments of John Willcock and Frank Wise, and was elected deputy leader of the Labor Party in July 1945. Hawke succeeded Wise as party leader in June 1951, and led Labor to victory at the 1953 state election. He retained government at the 1956 election, just a year after the 1955 party split, but was defeated in 1959 after just over six years in office. Hawke continued as Labor leader until December 1966, leading the party to two more elections, and left parliament at the 1968 election.
Hawke was born to James Renfrey Hawke and Elizabeth Ann Blinman née Pascoe, both of Cornish descent, in Kapunda, South Australia. Leaving school at the age of 13, he took up an apprenticeship as a clock-maker and jeweller, before working in a lawyer's office and joining the Australian Labor Party at 15.
After losing the seat by just 11 votes in the following 1927 election, he moved to Western Australia in 1928, becoming a country organiser for the ALP. In 1933 he caused a major political upset by defeating the sitting Premier Sir James Mitchell by 460 votes in the Western Australian Legislative Assembly seat of Northam. Mitchell had held the seat for 28 years previously. Hawke held the seat himself for 35 years until the 1968 general elections for which he did not re-nominate.
During his Western Australian parliamentary career he was appointed Minister for Employment and Labour in 1936 in the Collier and Willcock governments. He also held the positions of Minister for Labour and Industrial Development (1939), Minister for Works, Water Supplies and Industrial Development (1943). After Labor's defeat in the 1947 elections he held various shadow portfolios before becoming Leader of the Opposition on 3 July 1951 after Frank Wise resigned.
In the 23 February 1953 elections he led Labor to victory over the two-term Liberal-Country government of Sir Ross McLarty, becoming Premier as well as Treasurer and Minister for Child Welfare and Industrial Development. In June 1953, Hawke attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in London. In social policy, Hawke's governments enacted a series of progressive social reforms including the gradual easing of some oppressive regulations on Aborigines in WA, an accelerated construction of houses and schools, increases in workers’ compensation payments, allowing women to sit on juries, the regulation of hire purchase transactions, and the raising of the school-leaving age to 15.
Later life and death
Labor lost the March 1959 elections to David Brand's Liberals, but he stayed on as opposition leader until 1965, when he retired from politics and returned to live in South Australia. In 1986, Hawke died in Adelaide, aged 85.
In 1926, Hawke married Mabel Crafter, and they had a daughter.
- Ross McMullin, The Light on the Hill: The Australian Labor Party 1891-1991
- "Albert Redvers George Hawke (Labor)". The Constitutional Center of Western Australia. Retrieved 2006-03-31.
- Reid, Gordon Stanley and Oliver, Margaret R. (1982). The Premiers of Western Australia 1890–1982. Nedlands, Western Australia: University of Western Australia Press. ISBN 0-85564-214-9.