Bob Hawke

I think there are a number of reasons, not least of which is the personality of the Queen [ Elizabeth II]. It’s very easy to underrate her significance. I think she finds the Commonwealth and her position as Head of the Commonwealth infinitely more interesting than being the Queen of England, because she has no significant role in the latter.

I rang Brian [Mulroney] up. I said, “What’s this bloody nonsense. You’ve got a wheat trade with Iraq and you won’t come aboard?” I said, “We’ve got a bloody big wheat trade too, so get your priorities right.” And he said, “Okay, Bob. I’ll come.” I rang George and he was very appreciative.

It [also] lives on its history, now, to some extent: its achievements [ of the Commonwealth] in Rhodesia and South Africa, which were enormous. And they’ll live on that for some time, I guess. And there is still – I’m out of touch with it now, of course – but I still think there is a degree of cooperation at the economic level, to some extent, with the more developed countries helping the less developed. How substantial that is now, I simply am not versed.

[ Rajiv Gandhi] was very reflective and rueful and regretful about the fact that his children’s education…He wanted them to get educated outside of India, but he said to me the only place that he found where they would be safe was in Russia, and he didn’t really want them to be educated there! So, I said, “Well, send them to Australia. I’ll look after them.” And my security bloke went absolutely bloody bananas, and I said, “We’ll look after them.” But, in the end, he didn’t send them.

We [ with Brian Mulroney and Rajiv Gandhi] went to the meeting in Canada [the 1987 Vancouver CHOGM] and I said to them there that sanctions weren’t working; they were just being busted. And it did seem to me that one way that we could bring the apartheid regime down would be if we did mount an effective investment sanction.

When George Bush Senior [George HW Bush] was getting his alliance together to go into Iraq – to kick the Iraqis out of Kuwait – he rang me up. I was very close to George Bush Senior; I got to know him well as Vice President to Ronald Reagan. And George rang me up and said, “Oh, Bob,” he said, “I’m having trouble with Brian [Mulroney].” He said, “He’s got a big wheat trade with Iraq, and he doesn’t want to upset that.” I said, “You leave it with me.”