Nice pass Billy

Max Jeganathan celebrates ex-politician Bill Hayden for his selflessness in office and beyond, and praises Hayden's source of altruism.

A politician once told me that the most beautiful thing in sport is the ‘pass.’ What Bill Hayden did on February 3, 1983 was the political equivalent. 

Weeks before the election, he stepped aside as Labor leader making way for Bob Hawke, who went on to become one of Australia’s longest serving Prime Ministers. Hayden’s death at the age of 90 has been marked by tributes to his selflessness.  

His act to handball Hawke the Prime Ministership was a ‘pass’ in every sense of the word. He gave of himself for a greater good. He set up a teammate for success. He took a hit for a broader purpose. His sacrifice was, however, not without pain.  

After standing aside for Hawke, Hayden grumpily remarked that even “a drover’s dog could lead the Labor Party to victory.”  

He had also once grumbled that he didn’t want the obscure Social Security ministry. But – having it pushed on him – he designed and launched what would become Medicare, vaulting Australia’s health system into the top 6 in the world. 

Sacrifice is not easy. Hayden felt the cost. But he did it anyway. More than 30 years after Hayden passed the ball to Hawke, he made an even bigger decision.

After a lifetime as a prominent atheist, Hayden became a Christian, baptised as a Roman Catholic at the age of 80 declaring he had been captured by a gnawing of the heart and soul to seek the meaning of life. He was never to call the ultimate political prize his own.  

In the end, however, he happily pointed to the ultimate source of the selflessness he modelled – a God he could call his own.  


Morrison broke a taboo with anxiety, but he’s broken a bigger one in his book

Justine Toh reviews Scott Morrison’s upcoming biography Plans For Your Good: A Prime Minister’s Testimony of God’s Faithfulness and reflects on his role as a public Christian.