Giant of Australian politics Bob Hawke dies

Bob Hawke pictured with wife Blanche d'Alpuget and former prime ministers Paul Keating and Julia Gillard in 2016. Picture: Getty Images
Bob Hawke pictured with wife Blanche d'Alpuget and former prime ministers Paul Keating and Julia Gillard in 2016. Picture: Getty Images

FORMER Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke has died at the age of 89.

His wife Blanche d’Alpuget released a statement on Thursday, saying he died peacefully at home.

She confirmed she would hold a private funeral with his children Sue, Stephen, Rosslyn and stepson, Louis, and his grandchildren, as well as a memorial service in Sydney in the coming weeks.

“Today we lost Bob Hawke, a great Australian – many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era,” she said.

“Bob Hawke and Paul Keating and their governments modernised the Australian economy, paving the way for an unprecedented period of recession-free economic growth and job creation.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten paid tribute to Mr Hawke, saying the labour movement “salutes our greatest son”.

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“The Labor Party gives thanks for the life of our longest-serving prime minister and Australians everywhere remember and honour a man who gave so much to the country and people he cared for so deeply,” he said in a statement.

“The Australian people loved Bob Hawke because they knew Bob loved them, this was true to the very end.

“He was a leader of conviction – and a builder of consensus. But for Bob, consensus and co-operation never meant pursuing the lowest common denominator.”

WA Governor and former Federal Opposition leader Kim Beazley extended his condolences to Ms d’Alpuget and family.

He said on ABC radio Mr Hawke was probably Australia’s greatest peacetime prime minister, someone “who loved his fellow Australians”.

Mr Beazley said Mr Hawke and former Prime Minister Paul Keating had come together in a “fruitful, cheerful reunion”.

“I’ve known no one like him in my life,” Mr Beazley said.

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.”

In their statements, both Mr Keating and Mr Shorten championed Mr Hawke’s policy-making and its lasting impact on modern Australia, thoughts echoed by Ms d’Alpuget.

Mr Hawke and wife Blanche d’Alpuget.

“Bob’s consensus-style approach of bringing together the trade union movement and the business community boosted job opportunities while increasing the social wage through Medicare and extra financial support for low-income families,” she said.

“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.

“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 was dearly loved by his family, and so many friends and colleagues. We will miss him.

“The golden bowl is broken.”