The Bob Hawke name can still pull a crowd in Adelaide where the faithful turned out in force last night to hear ACTU Secretary Greg Combet give the annual Hawke lecture at the Adelaide Town Hall.

Looking very Clark Kentish the trade union leader who keeps assuring us he has no parliamentary ambitions delivered a wide ranging manifesto that covered the ground from foreign policy to education. The former PM positively glowed with pride at the performance of his trade union successor and left the crowd of 1,500 or so in doubt that he believed Mr Combet should follow further in his political footsteps.

For his part Mr Combet mouthed no interest in doing other than serving the trade union movement in its hour of need.

His was a serious hour long address with few rhetorical flourishes but the twinkle in the old man’s eye when he told me that Greg was not only serious but popular with women was a hint that Bill Shorten will have competition to be the next leader of the Labor Party to emerge from the union movement.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey