Foreign Relations


Prime Minister, Bob Hawke with Deputy President of the African National Congress, Nelson Mandela at Parliament House, 29 October 1990 (NAA: A6180, 29/10/90/16)

Bob Hawke’s prowess as a skilled negotiator contributed greatly to foreign affairs.  Hawke significantly strengthened Australia’s global role through relationships with Asia, Europe and the US.

The Hawke era saw the greatest expansion of exports in Australia’s history.  He opened up Chinese markets for Australian iron and steel, starting the huge trade that has underpinned the long-range Australian resources boom.

Bob Hawke was deeply committed to the anti-apartheid cause.  At the 1987 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) meeting in Canada, he began garnering support from fellow Commonwealth leaders for financial sanctions against South Africa, contributing to the eventual unravelling of the apartheid system.


Prime Minister, Bob Hawke with Chinese Vice Premier, Wan Li during his visit to Australia in 1986 (NAA: A6180, 8/9/86/15)


Prime Minister, Bob Hawke with South African unionists, 6 June 1986 (NAA: A6180, 6/6/86/16)

Images courtesy of the National Archives of Australia, digitised from the unprocessed photographs in the Bob Hawke Collection.

Foreign Relations