A couple of things on Bob Hawke. Where he did so well was his conciliatory approach. He took ideas and policies that were naturally the domain of economic liberals, but was able to convince his party and the electorate to trust him, that he would institute this economic liberalist approach with adequate social safeguards in place, so that the poorer classes wouldn't be completely burnt in the process. And would get an adequate share of the spoils.
He was the ultimate, centrist PM in my mind.
I don't think a PM from the other side of the house - despite some of them being champions of economic liberalism - would have been able to achieve the same. 1) They wouldn't have been able to earn the trust of the electorate that they would intstitute such an economic agenda, while also looking out for the common man/woman, 2) A Liberal PM likely would have struggled to pull his/her party across the line to build in as extensive social safeguards as what Hawke did.
I think also (Keating has spoken of this before). When one gets elected, you get straight to work using the enormous amount of good will from the electorate, and hence, political capital, to institute your policy agenda. You never know how long this good will, will last. So don't waist a day. Essentially, go in there accepting the inevitable, that one day you will get voted out and use the limited time you have, to make the changes you've preached. The idea of a self preserving career politician, or indeed, self preserving govts holding power for the sake of holding power, is the antithesis of this.
Also, ultimately I think Hawke was simply, a nice likable bloke. Compare and contrast him to Keating, whose political positions were on the same page as Hawke, but just never had the aura of being a friendly, approachable kind of gentleman that Hawke was.