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MP calls on new Labor leader to take Bob Hawke's lead on migrant policy

Federal member for Wills Peter Khalil and former Prime Minister Bob Hawke. Source: AAP

The Labor MP currently sitting in the Melbourne seat previously held by Bob Hawke says whoever leads the should do so in the former prime minister's mould.

As Labor looks set to select its new leader following Bill Shorten's departure, one MP says the focus must be placed on policies of old to ensure that the party bounces back after Saturday's election loss.

MP Peter Khalil was reelected in the Melbourne seat of Wills by a commanding majority, an electorate previously held by the late former Prime Minister Bob Hawke. 

Mr Khalil tells SBS Arabic24 that whoever is chosen to lead the party should set out policies akin to those of Mr Hawke, who died two days before the election, at age 89.

The legacy of Bob Hawke
Former prime minister Bob Hawke , who served as Australia's 23rd prime minister from 1983-1991

The MP's comments come as long-serving MP Anthony Albanese looks set to become the new Labor leader, with Jim Chalmers pulling out of the race on Thursday.

"[Bob Hawke] was someone who created a legacy for this country because he reached out across to all Australians, not just a few," Mr Khalil said. 

"I think the Labor party was very successful in the era because it was supporting multiculturalism, it was supporting a fair go, it was supporting the aspirations of people who wanted to achieve and succeed, particularly the migrants who came to this country." 

Mr Khalil's parents migrated to Australia from Egypt during the 1970s. His early life was spent growing up in an inner city Melbourne housing commission.

"We had access to public housing, to healthcare in the form of Medicare, which Bob Hawke put in place and we had access to education. The education gave us the opportunity to succeed in this country and that’s Bob’s legacy for millions of us who succeed in this country.

"I think the new Labor leader has to really take that example to be a party and to be a government for all Australians and for the success of all Australians."

Anthony Albanese is set to become the new Labor leader, after Jim Chalmers pulled out.
Anthony Albanese is set to become the new Labor leader, after Jim Chalmers pulled out.

Mr Khalil paid tribute to Mr Shorten, a man he said was a "tremendous leader" and believes the party's election loss was attributed partly to a preference deal between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the United Australia Party. 

"Six years ago, some people don’t remember, the party had gone through the leadership contests of Rudd and Gillard, and Bill came to become the leader against all expectations and united the party," he said. 

"There was strong morale, strong consistency there was policy development which was very brave."

As for future direction, Mr Khalil said the new Labor leader needed to "clear the slate and start again". 

"There’s a need for a strong narrative about what it is we stand for, it is a fair go for all, but I think it has to be appealing to the aspirational voter as well. Everyone wants to succeed. We have to create that equality of opportunity that my family got."

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