Euthanasia laws: As Bob Hawke might say, 'Bloody bewdie, Jill!'
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Euthanasia laws: As Bob Hawke might say, 'Bloody bewdie, Jill!'

We await Bob Hawke's intervention in the endlessly fraught Victorian parliamentary debate over euthanasia, after the laws passed the lower house.

Paul Keating has already injected his piece, in which he advanced the view that even dreadful pain was preferable to assisted dying. But then, he thought Australia had to have a recession, and once declared his plan for an opponent was to "do you slowly".

Hawke has been given a significant opportunity by Victoria's Health Minister, Jill Hennessy, to offer his distinct view.

We suspect it might be along the lines of, "You bloody bewdy, Jill, give it to him, love!", or something a bit saltier.

Bob Hawke is famous for his propensity to turn the air blue.

Bob Hawke is famous for his propensity to turn the air blue.

Photo: Andrew Meares
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Hawkie has, as all Australian knows, been famous for much of his life for his propensity to turn the air blue when moved to high emotion. Neither a sailor nor a shearer could compete with him at full stretch.

When describing Keating, for instance, in the days after Keating laid down his challenge for the prime ministership in 1991, Hawke was known to string together whole sentences consisting of almost nothing beyond words starting with F and C, with the occasional more conventional descriptor like "duplicitous".

Hennessy's description of Deputy Premier James Merlino – in a wonderfully misdirected text message – would, you'd think, meet with Hawke's admiration. Merlino, like Keating, is opposed to legalising euthanasia.

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Ms Hennessy, you would be aware, referred to Merlino in her text with the phrase CU Next Tuesday .. .and then sent it to Merlino himself.

Merlino is said to be shocked. Well, he would be – as a former industrial officer of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, he would never have heard language like that.

Tony Wright

Tony Wright is the associate editor and special writer for The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald

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