Older Australians’ favourite PM

Whether it was sentiment caused by the proximity to his death, his game-changing policies or his likeable persona, Bob Hawke is Australia’s favourite prime minister in the eyes of older Australians.

In our Friday Flash Poll: Who was the best Australian prime minister?, Bob Hawke took out the top spot with 35 per cent of the vote, followed by his nemesis at the time, John Howard, with 27 per cent of the vote.

“Hawke was the whole package. He was competent and a man of the people. He was brilliant and, along with Paul Keating, they were a magnificent team,” wrote YourLifeChoices member Paddington.

The rest of the pack weren’t even close. Third was Gough Whitlam with 14 per cent and fourth was Sir Robert Menzies with 10 per cent. Paul Keating came in fifth with five per cent.

“Gough Whitlam got my vote as the best PM, as he had the foresight to end conscription, which meant I did not have to go to a war that should not have involved Australia. He also got the raw deal when he lost office in 1975 and set up Labor for the next generation of Labor politicians, including Bob Hawke!” wrote Dobbo1.

When asked which prime minister has done the most for our country, the two favourites also led the charge. According to the survey respondents, Bob Hawke’s accomplishments resonated most, with 42 per cent of the vote. John Howard’s achievements, which included introducing strict gun laws post-Port Arthur, privatising public infrastructure and steering a ship of prosperity largely driven by the mining boom, gave him second spot with 25 per cent.

Third was Gough Whitlam, two votes ahead of Sir Robert Menzies, both with 11 per cent.

“For me, it was the great Gough Whitlam. He brought us into the 20th century. Free university, equal pay, racial discrimination act, moved us out of Vietnam, introduced Medibank and various social welfare reforms. On a personal note, he introduced the national sewerage program which made a big difference to many,” wrote Sundays.

And in fifth spot, most likely for enshrining compulsory super, was Paul Keating with six per cent.

“Paul Keating was, in my view, the only prime minister who had a vision for Australia, the only true statesman. I still always enjoy reading his comments on today’s sorry state of affairs. We haven’t had true leadership in this country, our Kiwi neighbours are more fortunate. The exchange rate says it all,” wrote Franky.

As well as John Howard performed in the ‘favourite’ polls, he also finished in the top three least favourites, in what could be called a ‘like him or hate him’ result.

Perhaps unsurprising to many YourLifeChoices members (and the rest of the country), the least favourite PM mantle went to Tony Abbott with 30 per cent of the vote. The swing against Mr Abbott was certainly apparent in his demise on the weekend, losing the seat of Warringah to independent Zali Steggall.

“Regardless of what side of politics at least you knew where both Howard and Abbott stood. Apart from Hawke and Keating and Morrison, the rest were/are chameleons at best and will sway whatever their minders and spin doctors deem will garner the most votes. I wonder whether (off the record) they sincerely believe that half of what they spout forth they sincerely believe in terms of Australia or their ideology?” wrote David.

In second spot on the least favourite list was strip-club attendee Kevin Rudd, on 15 per cent, and third was Australia’s most famous pair of eyebrows, John Howard, on 11 per cent.

“John Howard led us into war that we should not have entered, plus children and other refugees overboard,” wrote KB.

Rounding out the top five were Julia Gillard (nine per cent) and Gough Whitlam (seven per cent).

Scott Morrison has a lot to do to catch up to our former greats, but he certainly fared better than his Liberal predecessors Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull in the least favourite stakes. Is he up to the task of leading the nation? The weekend’s election results indicate he has the faith of the majority, including YourLifeChoices member Maureen.

“I think Scott Morrison is going to be my favourite PM. A wonderful honest caring man who will achieve great things for Australia and future generation Australians,” she wrote.

Were the 1980s and `90s a golden era of Australian politics? What did you think of Mr Abbott’s exit speech? Are you glad to see him go? Are you happy with the weekend’s results?

Related articles:
Over 65s distrustful of politics
The most important election issue
Over 55s trust no one

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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