NOOSA – When John Pilger wrote his book, A Secret Country, he referred to me as a “mate” of Bob Hawke.
Like much of what Pilger writes, that was wrong. I never knew Hawke well, but we had some brief encounters over the years, especially when I worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the second time around, between 1985 and 1988.
In March 1986, in my role as the ABC’s Controller of Corporate Relations, I accompanied Chairman Ken Myer on a visit to Canberra for a series of meetings with senior government politicians including prime minister Hawke.
The purpose of the visit was twofold: for Ken to explain how the ABC was addressing some challenging problems, but primarily for him to respond to political concerns about how the organisation was performing under his stewardship. This is an edited extract of my diary from that time….
Tuesday 4 March, 1986 – Canberra
Bob Hawke, perfectly clothed and coiffed, seems rather distant at first, as if the early conversational niceties are an imposition. Then, without warning, Ken pulls out a compact disc player. Sitting beside him on the lounge, I’m stunned. This was something we hadn’t discussed.
Hawke could not have been more surprised had Ken drawn a revolver from his satchel.