It must surely be one of the most uncontroversial ideas ever, naming a federal electorate after Australia’s longest serving Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
But as they say in the classics, a small group of furious citizens have declared “hold my beer” – lodging formal objections to the idea.
The complaints to the Australian Electoral Commission over naming an electorate after “Hawkie” largely rest on the idea that the Labor leader liked two things a little too much – women and beer.
Although he famously gave up the latter for much of the time he was Prime Minister, telling voters he hadn’t always been “a good husband” and he drank too much, but vowing to rein it in if he won the election.
“I stopped, and I did it at a time which when I knew it would really test me,” he later recalled.
“I was at the ACTU still and I used to go each year to Geneva for the month of June which was the annual conference of the ILO [International Labour Organisation] and you know, really worked hard but I also played hard. And I got off a plane at Geneva and my friends were there to see me when I arrived,” he said.
“A couple of them said, ‘Let’s go and have a drink’. I said ‘I’m not drinking’ and the look of absolute unbelief on their face — but I knew if I could get through that month there I’d be right.”
Mindful of the history, Mrs J. Elsworthy has written to the AEC alleging the late Mr Hawke was a thirsty ladies man unfit to have an electorate named after him.
“In the current political climate, is it really a good idea to name an electorate after Bob Hawke, a known womaniser?’’ the letter states.
“(A) lecher who also glorifies excessive drinking and being one of the boys?”
Ms Elsworthy, who appears to be a Labor voter, continues on with a sledge of Scott Morrison on the dismount and some sharp analysis of Labor’s Accord deal with unions in the 1980s.
“I live in Melton, and can cope with Gorton, who, even though he was a Liberal, was an honest, decent man, unlike the present Prime Minister,’’ she writes.
“I take the renaming to Hawke as a personal insult to all women, and all workers.”
In the same vein, D Griffiths complains of being “amazed and concerned in relation to naming the new electorate after the previous Prime Minister Bob Hawke in light of recent events in Parliament.”
“There has been a number of allegations of rape, sexual harassment and gross behaviour by staff members,’’ the letter states.
“It was generally known he was a womaniser and lecher that glorified … being ‘one of the boys’.
“I believe there are more deserving names the new electorate could be named after: Gough Whitlam, or Julia Gillard.”
Mr Hawke made no secret in later life that he wasn’t always a faithful husband.
Asked by interviewer Clive Robertson about accusations of being a womaniser and what that meant, Mr Hawke replied:
“They mean that I wasn’t faithful to my wife.”
Asked if that was true, he replied: “Yes”.
He later discussed his infidelity in an interview with the ABC’s Kerry O’Brien admitting it “wasn’t easy” to conduct affairs while in public office, but he had “staff and security people and so on who were dedicated to me”.
It was Paul Keating who famously revealed Mr Hawke’s habit of greeting ministers while sunbathing nude beside the swimming pool at The Lodge.
Radio broadcaster John Laws, among others, also spoke of his fondness for answering the door with no clothes on.
“Bob answered the door wearing nothing but a towel around his waist,’’ he said.
“He said we’d have a drink.
“So I sat down next to Caroline. Bob sat opposite, in his towel, and put his feet up on the coffee table — everything on view, visible to all. We got out of there very quickly.”