New documentary to reveal 'disruptor' Hawke

DOCUMENTARY: Bob Hawke's documentary to shed light on his leadership skills and long-term impact, as well as offer a few surprises.
DOCUMENTARY: Bob Hawke's documentary to shed light on his leadership skills and long-term impact, as well as offer a few surprises. Simon Morris, courtesy of Southe

ONE of greatest political disruptors of our time, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke AC is the focus of a new two-part documentary to be produced by Southern Pictures.

Executive producer Laurie Critchley said the decision to develop a historical documentary about the enigmatic Hawke was about timing with the current political landscape volatile and a new breed of leaders are challenging what we believe in and what we are willing to inherit.

"I think it's a very good time to be doing this show," Ms Critchley said.

"Bob Hawke was the great disruptor of his generation."

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The former Oxford University scholar and leader of the Australian Council of Trade Unions came to power after a landslide victory in March 1983 to serve as Australia's 23rd prime minister from 1983 to 1991.

Under his stewardship the Australian dollar was deregulated, Medicare began operating, Advance Australia Fair was proclaimed our national anthem, Uluru was handed back to its traditional owners, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission began work and Australian law became independent of British parliaments and courts.

"He was a television politician who came in with unprecedented popularity and was somebody Australia really looked to fix things after the years of chaos with (Gough) Whitlam and the subsequent disillusionment with Malcolm Fraser," Ms Critchley added.

"Hawke came in with Australians looking for him to fix and change things.

"I think there is no question, however you might interpret those changes, whether they were good or worse. That is something we will be looking at in the show.

"There is no doubt he left Australia in a very different place to the one which they found it. It was a period of incredible change."

Joining the production team of Susan Spencer and Geraldine McKenna, and director Bruce Permezel, is the writer and interviewer, veteran journalist and award-winning author, George Megalogenis.

"He brings his extraordinary knowledge of the period and the landscape, as well as a lot of the players," Ms Critchley said.

The program will be looking into Hawke's leadership, his legacies and what impact they are having on Australians today.

Hawke, 87, has opened his doors to the Southern Pictures team to capture his memories and thoughts as he continues to astound the Australian public with his wit, intelligence and maverick ways including recently putting his name to a boutique beer.

"He is as strongly opinionated as ever about things. I think he's intellect is as sharp as ever," Ms Critchley said.

Mr Hawke and those closest to him have been "incredibly forthcoming".

"Expect the unexpected," she added.

"What will be interesting to the older viewers, is we thought we knew him when we elected him and we think we know him now, but I don't think we have ever stopped to look back to work out really what did we know and where some our assumptions right, did he surprise us and looking back, are there more surprises in store? I think there are.

"For younger viewers who don't know anything about Bob Hawke, except that he likes a beer at the cricket and he is iconic, there is a lot to learn because they are looking at the world today and thinking how did we get here and what have we got."

The documentary is being supported by Screen Australia and produced by Southern Pictures. It is due to be aired on ABC television in early 2018.

Topics:  abc tv bob hawke documentaries editors picks entertainment general-seniors-news laurie critchley

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