Bob Hawke dies aged 89

“The golden bowl is broken.”

Mr Hawke’s death will rock the final two days of the federal election campaign. The former Labor leader, who was prime minister from 1983 to 1991, on Wednesday wrote an open letter to Australians backing Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to win Saturday’s poll.


In a statement on Thursday night, Mr Shorten said MR Hawke was a “leader of conviction – and a builder of consensus”.

“In Australian history, in Australian politics, there will always be B.H. and A.H: Before Hawke and After Hawke. After Hawke, we were a different country. A kinder, better, bigger and bolder country,” Mr Shorten said.

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

“At our Labor launch I told Bob we loved him, I promised we would win for him. I said the same to him the next day at his home, when I visited.

“Blanche is in our hearts today, so too are Bob’s children, Sue, Stephen, Rosslyn, his stepson Louis and his grandchildren.”

Ms d’Alpuget said the former prime minister would be laid to rest at a private funeral and a public memorial service would be held in Sydney over the coming weeks.

“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,” she said.

Former Labor prime ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating recently reunited to write in support of Bill Shorten’s economic credentials.Credit:ninevms

“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.

“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.”

Bevan Shields is the Federal Editor and Canberra Bureau Chief for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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