Bill Hayden, a former leader of the Labor Party and governor general of the state of New South Wales, has passed away at the age of 90.
In a statement released on Saturday, the Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese, confirmed his passing and paid tribute to him as “a legend of our labour movement.” Albanese also announced that a state burial will be performed to honor his life.
While serving as Australia’s Minister for Social Security, Hayden was responsible for the implementation of both Medibank, the country’s first plan for universal healthcare, and the nation’s first single mother’s pension. According to Albanese, Hayden realized “poverty too often trapped women in violent relationships” due to his prior experience as a police officer.
The first people that came to Albanese’s mind were Hayden’s wife of 63 years, Dallas, their children, “and all those who knew and loved him best,” he said.
“Even if Bill Hayden were to leave no other legacy than his role as a key architect of universal healthcare,” Albanese added, “he would still stand for all time as a legend of our labor movement and a great contributor to our nation.”
“Of course, over the course of his whole career, Bill contributed so much more to the nation that he cherished. In point of fact, Bill Hayden provided his full effort in each and every position he had, including Governor-General, Minister for Social Security, Treasurer, Foreign Minister, and Labor Leader.
“During a time when strong personalities were prevalent, Bill Hayden stood out for his unassuming demeanor. Nevertheless, there was nothing humble about his aspirations for either Labor or Australia. This was the kind of unassuming moral fortitude that he brought to the fight for social advancement.
Albanese stated that Hayden “gave the party a new direction and empowered a new generation of talent” when Hayden succeeded Albanese as party leader following two consecutive electoral setbacks in 1975 and 1977.
“As Paul Keating put it, Bill’s leadership made the turn to ‘Labor Mark II.’ He laid the foundation for the social and economic reforms that created three decades of economic growth and delivered Australia into a new era in education, foreign affairs, environmental policy, and – of course – universal healthcare,” said Keating. “Bill was a visionary, and he had the ability to see the big picture.”
“When the story of that generation is told, history should record that there could have been no Medicare if it weren’t for Bill Hayden championing and building Medibank,”
“Bill never lost his interest in the big issues, which is only fitting for a guy who has left such an enduring legacy in the realm of public policy. Along with a vast number of my other coworkers, I found that I profited significantly from Bill’s counsel, that I treasured his insights, and that I greatly liked the thoughtful manner in which he gave them.
Jim Chalmers, who serves as the party’s treasurer, remarked that Hayden “was the selfless servant of the Australian people and our Party.” He was a superb representative of both Queensland and Australia, known for his responsibility and his respectability.
“He was our 27th Treasurer, but his impact went well beyond the five months he served in that role in 1975,” Chalmers stated. “His tenure as Treasurer in 1975 lasted only a fraction of a year.”