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‘Two Bob’ Medallion #2011-0116

Metal medallion bearing the image of Bob Hawke on each side with an inscription. Both sides are identical.


Robert James Lee ‘Bob’ Hawke (1929) was Australia’s 23rd Prime Minister. Born in Bordertown, South Australia, he was the son of a Congregationalist minister and nephew of Bert Hawke, Premier of Western Australia 1953-59. After attending school he joined the Labor Party in 1947 and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford from 1953-56; it was during his time in Britain that he earned his famous Guiness Book of Records world record for drinking a yard glass (1.7 litres) in 11 seconds. In his memoirs, published in 1994, Hawke speculated that this achievement may have been responsible for much of his political success by endearing him to a population which considered beer drinking a national pastime and highlighting his ‘common touch’.

Hawke began working for the Australian Council of Trade Unions in 1957 and rose through the ranks to become its President in 1969, a position he held until 1980. Elected to Parliament for the Victorian seat of Wills in that year, he took over the Labor leadership from Bill Hayden on the same day Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser called a federal election; Hawke won in a landslide and began a period of economic and social reform in partnership with Treasurer Paul Keating, who succeeded him in 1991. Key achievements of Hawke’s government included the Wages Accord with the ACTU in 1983, large scale economic deregulation, introduction of the Medicare health scheme, establishment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and floating of the Australian dollar. In December 1991 he lost a leadership challenge from Keating and resigned as prime minister after having led a Labor government longer than any of his predecessors. His public persona as an Australian everyman was the key to his political success; biographer Paul Kelly attributed his 1983 win to his media skills and described him as ‘the most popular man in Australia’ at the time of his election as prime minister.

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This medallion is significant due to its depiction of Bob Hawke, Australia’s 23rd Prime Minister. The medallion depicts him in a flattering light but apart from the words ‘Two Bob’ (a pun based on the pre decimal word ‘bob’ as a slang term for a shilling) has no political message. It is likely the medal, which appears to have been professionally minted, was a piece of memorabilia for Hawke’s many fans and supporters during his political career. In this regard it can be considered as a material example of the prime minister’s role as a celebrity. Some prime ministers have fit this role more than others – Bob Hawke’s celebrity status had a significant impact on his political success; he was an incredibly popular figure in his day, a media personality as much as a politician. The medallion is an example of the depiction of Australian political figures not as parliamentarians, or leaders, but as icons of popular culture.

  • ‘Two Bob’ Medallion‘Two Bob’ Medallion —


Diameter 32mm
Medium Metal
Creator’s name Unknown
Date created c.1983