"As Prime Minister, Mr Hawke played an enormous role in the development of the modern Australian economy, leading the way for many of the significant reforms that have provided the flexibility necessary to allow our economy to grow and withstand severe external shocks.
"As ACTU President, Mr Hawke led the union movement on the basis of consultation, negotiation and conciliation with employers and worked in a respectful, mature way to secure outcomes in the interests of both employees and employers.
"He built strong relationships with leaders of employer organisations, including the two original forerunners of Ai Group – the Metal Trades Industry Association and the Australian Chamber of Manufactures. These relationships, including the negotiations for the Accords between business, unions and government, averted or shortened many an industrial dispute and led to consensus around the opening up of the Australian economy.
"These things were not always easy for all sides but good will, open communication, trust and a willingness to compromise were keys to strong relationships and paving the way for outcomes that worked in the national interest.
"On behalf of Australian employers, we recognise Mr Hawke's enormous political and industrial achievements," Mr Willox said.
Media enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347