Bob Hawke


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Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke


Hans Rosling, the intellectual heavyweight and Professor of Global Health at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, wrote a really encouraging comment a few weeks ago on this blog. I thought I would share it here:

I wish you good luck Matt.
The seemingly impossible is indeed often possible, but be aware that the impossible is impossible. It takes a lot of wisdom to see the difference between the impossible and the seemingly impossible. We follow you with interest!
Hans Rosling

All too often, statements have been made then expectations failed about what was thought as possible. Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke in 1987 famously stated that

“…by 1990 no Australian child will be living in poverty”

This has not been achieved, especially on many remote Indigenous communities. This comment should not be used for cheap political point scoring or neither used to judge the performance of Mr Hawke. In 2007 he claimed it was among his biggest regrets in his political life.

We should take Hans’ caution seriously. Do we have the wisdom to discern what is in fact impossible? And how do we then navigate the path forward past failed expectations?

Already, many of the Millennium Development Goals appear to be closer to impossible than possible. “Hope dims for universal education by 2015”. Can we arrest child mortality as one target to achieve?

Should we prepare ourselves now for a more realistic outcome in 2015? Is there more we can all do to change the situation in some small way? The disappointment at the United Nations Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen in 2009 was significant. A different issue to extreme poverty. How will we respond when the Millennium Development Goals are accounted for in 2015?

What is impossible?