Australia

Red-faced Labor MP knocks back Hawkie beer

Labor MP Tony Burke has reflected on the time he offended former PM Bob Hawke by rejecting a beer. (AAP)

Labor MP Tony Burke has reflected on a rare moment of tension between him and Bob Hawke - when he was forced to decline a beer being offered by the former PM.

A senior Labor MP has recalled one of the only moments of tension between him and Bob Hawke - when he said 'no' to a beer from the former prime minister.

Tony Burke has coeliac disease and can only drink certain brands of gluten-free beer.

So, when the much-loved Labor luminary offered him a Bob Hawke branded beer, he had to decline.

"When I said 'no', there was a movement in Bob Hawke's eyebrows, and they sharpened," Mr Burke told parliament on Wednesday.

"I started to try to explain, and as the eyebrows got sharper and sharper I had that moment, that for the first time I saw Bob as he looked when (Liberal leaders) Andrew Peacock and John Howard looked at him."

Mr Hawke's expression said: "I do not understand what you are saying to me."

"From that moment on, every time I caught up with Bob, I made sure I had some gluten-free beer that I'd bring with me," Mr Burke said.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt paused to choke back tears while thanking Mr Hawke for his work with Aboriginal people.

"Bob Hawke was a man who held the needs of indigenous Australians dear to his heart. He wanted Australians to hold it to theirs as well," he said.

"Thank you for what you did for our nation. But in particular, for first nations' people."

The minister noted Mr Hawke often expressed regret he wasn't able to do more for Aboriginal Australians during his time in parliament.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher shared a memory from his days as a student in the 1980s, when he and his housemates would dispense wine from a plastic bust of the former prime minister.

The likeness was complete with a screw top lid and wine tap, which Mr Fletcher and his friends would fill with bags of wine.

"That is an indicator of Bob Hawke's place in Australian popular culture."

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