Australia

'His legacy will endure forever': Australia remembers former PM Bob Hawke

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His wife, Blanche d'Alpuget, has confirmed that the former Labor prime minister died on Thursday.

Leaders from across the political spectrum have paid tribute to former prime minister Bob Hawke, who has died aged 89.

Labor's longest-serving prime minister, who led Australia from 1983-1991, died at his Sydney home on Thursday.

In a statement, his wife Blanche d'Alpuget said, "Today we lost Bob Hawke, a great Australian - many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era".

Former prime minister Bob Hawke died at his home in Sydney, aged 89.
Former prime minister Bob Hawke died at his home in Sydney, aged 89.
AAP

 
 
 
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It’s with a weighty heart I wish for my old mate Bob Hawke to Rest In Peace - you are truely a gracious soul indeed🙏🏼my sincere condolences to Blanch and immediate family members. Huge hallelujah to the legend that will live on in our memory. Thank you Bob for highlighting our capabilities as a kind, sharp, forward thinking nation...but mostly for lifting us above the stagnant gel of closed borders, opening opportunity and leading from a swift wit. It was a great honour to swap garb and stand by your side in the Bondi shorebreak for this photograph (1994) - but the greatest honour of all was to feel supported by Bob when I decided to boycott professional surfing events held in Aparthied South Africa (1985). There were many more times I felt Bobs kind support. Particularly the night of our premiere of Storm Surfers 3D (2013) when we shared choc tops before the show, we talked about the distinct difficulties with political leadership in the western world at the time with his commenting “I reckon social media has a lot to do with the confusion at present Tom” mmm...interesting✅

A post shared by Tom Carroll (@thomasvictorcarroll) on May 16, 2019 at 4:56am PDT

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Mr Hawke was "one of Australia's great prime ministers and certainly Labor's greatest prime minister".

"His achievements will be spoken of in the days ahead but the thing Australians will remember most about him was the bloke," he told reporters.

"He made Australia stronger through his contribution to public life. He had a great intellect. He had enormous passion and he had courage."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said "the nation and Labor are in mourning".

"We have lost a favourite son," he told reporters.

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"Bob Hawke loved Australia and Australia loved Bob Hawke. But his legacy will endure forever. Bob Hawke changed Australia for the better.

"He brought people together, he brought Australia together, he modernised our economy, he transformed our society, he protected our environment."

Former prime minister Bob Hawke.
Former prime minister Bob Hawke.
AAP

Ms d'Alpuget will hold a private funeral with his children Sue, Stephen, Rosslyn and stepson, Louis, and his grandchildren.

A memorial service for Australia's 23rd prime minister will be held in Sydney in coming weeks.

Bob Hawke on election night in 1983.
Bob Hawke on election night in 1983.
AAP

Mr Hawke's death comes just days before the federal election, something he predicted in December he would not see because of ill health.

Mr Keating said Mr Hawke had been hoping for a Labor victory this weekend.

"In what was our last collaboration, Bob and I were delighted to support Bill Shorten last week in recounting the rationale we employed in opening Australia to the world," he said.

"The country is much the poorer for Bob Hawke's passing."

Former prime ministers Paul Keating and Bob Hawke
Former prime ministers Paul Keating and Bob Hawke
AAP

In their statements, both Mr Keating and Mr Shorten championed Mr Hawke's policy-making and its lasting impact on modern Australia.

It was a sentiment echoed by Ms d'Alpuget.

"Together with his highly talented cabinets, he foresaw the Asian Century and positioned Australia to take full advantage of it through a program of sweeping economic reforms," she said.

"Among his proudest achievements were large increases in the proportion of children finishing high school, his role in ending apartheid in South Africa and his successful international campaign to protect Antarctica from mining.

"He abhorred racism and bigotry. His father, the Reverend Clem Hawke, told Bob that if you believed in the Fatherhood of God then you must also believe in the Brotherhood of Man. Bob would add today the Sisterhood of Women."

Bob Hawke and US President Ronald Reagan.
Bob Hawke and US President Ronald Reagan.
AAP

Tributes have been flowing on social media.

Former Labor leaders Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard said he forever changed Australia for the better.

There was also praise from across the aisle.

But former prime minister Tony Abbott said "you might almost say he had a Labor heart, but a Liberal head".

Many Labor luminaries paid their respects in deeply personal terms.

The Greens founder remembered Mr Hawke's decisive role in saving Tasmania's Franklin River from a proposed dam.

And other famous names also mourned for "a great man".

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