FORMER Australian union leader and prime minister, Bob Hawke, drew a good number of curious on-lookers as he belted out the “union solidarity song” with PNGTUC leaders at Airways Hotel last Thursday.
Mr Hawke, who was a long-serving prime ministers of Australia, had a short meeting with PNG Trade Union Congress president Michael Malabag and general-secretary John Paska.
The two PNG union leaders met with Mr Hawke where they welcomed him on behalf of the union movement and workers of PNG.
They exchanged greetings and caught up with issues familiar to the labour movement.
During the meeting, the union leaders reminded the former prime minister about one of his not-so-well-known achievements – holding the record in the Guinness Book of Records for drinking the greatest amount of beer (2.5L) in 11 seconds at the Oxford University College.
After the meeting, Mr Hawke was presented with gifts and sang the union song.
The PNG union leaders said they were privileged to have met with an icon of labour movement and world leader.
Mr Malabag said for many in the labour movement, Mr Hawke was an inspiration then, now and for many in the future.
He said Mr Hawke’s personal contribution to wage justice in PNG was indelibly embedded.
“At a time when equal pay and wage discrimination were considered the order of the day, his personal involvement laid the foundation not only with respect to breaking down the barriers of discrimination, but for the enlightenment of the working people through the union movement,” Mr Paska said.
Mr Hawke was bestowed the highest Logohu Award as “Chief” last week.
Mr Hawke started his career as research officer with the Australian council of trade union (ACTU) in 1958 and became president from 1970-80 before becoming the president of the Australian labour party (ALP) from 1973-78.
He was elected into Australian federal parliament as member for Willis, Victoria, and shadow minister for industrial relations, employment and youth affairs.
He was Australian prime minister from March 1983-90 until he resigned in Dec 1991.
Mr Malabag said the nation’s highest honour was befitting of his immense contribution to PNG both in his capacity as prime minister, research officer and later president of ACTU.