Aussies sharing their letters from Bob Hawke

“Perhaps when we grow very old, our bodies get worn out, or certain parts break down, like parts in an old car,” Mr Hawke wrote in response on July 23, 1985.

“None of us can be sure of how long we will live. Because this is so I think you should try not to think too much about dying but think about all the nice things around you that make life so precious to us all.”

Tracey called his response “my most treasured childhood memory”, and is one of many Australians sharing the responses they received from the prolific letter writer.

Amanda Perram wrote a letter to Mr Hawke sharing her fears about the prospect of nuclear war as a child.

She said his letter in response made her realise he “truly cared” and “had really listened”. She described him as a “true leader”.

ABC journalist Conor Duffy received a two-page response on behalf of Mr Hawke in 1991, sharing his concerns about the environment, recycling, poverty and the economy.

“I remember being so chuffed they made time for a know it all 9 year old!” Duffy wrote.

Several other Australians have praised the former Labor leader for writing back to them, saying it was a testament to his character.

Mr Hawke studied a Bachelor of Letters, specialising in economics, at Oxford University.

The day before he died, he wrote his final open letter to Australians, endorsing Labor leader Bill Shorten for the Saturday election.

“Bravery, honesty and vision are needed of the next Australian government. Laying out a party’s detailed policies ahead of an election requires political courage. Bill and his team have shown that courage, trusting the fair-mindedness of the Australian people,” the letter stated.

ABC political editor Andrew Probyn said last night he expected the death of the Labor great, a transformative figure, would in itself transform the last day of campaigning and affect it “considerably”.

Condolences were led by Mr Shorten, who said Mr Hawke “inspired such profound affection and admiration, such loyalty and love among so many”.

“With his passing, the labour movement salutes our greatest son, 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,” Mr Shorten said.

— with Charis Chang


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