Hawke was born in South Australia but moved to Western Australia as a child. He attended the University of Western Australia and then went on to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. In 1956, Hawke joined the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) as a research officer. Having risen to become responsible for wage arbitration, he was elected ACTU President in 1969, where he achieved a high public profile. After a decade in that role, Hawke announced his intention to enter politics, and was immediately elected to the House of Representatives as the Labor MP for Wills.
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