Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke dies, aged 89

Nellie Chapman
May 18, 2019

Australia's Labor party Leader and opposition leader Bill Shorten speaks with media after paying floral tribute on the death of the former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke in front of the Opera House in Sydney on May 17, 2019.

His second wife said the late politician "died peacefully at home".

Australia's political leaders made last-gasp pitches to voters on Friday, on the eve of an election that polls show is going down to the wire. Hawke then led Labor to a landslide victory in the federal election, defeating incumbent Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser.

To many, he was a quintessential Australian "larrikin" - a beloved rogue.

The polls have officially opened in the Australian election. "In a later Twitter post he added: "[Hawke] had the capacity to reach out to everyone across party lines.

"The country is much the poorer for Bob Hawke's passing". "May he Rest In Peace".

Inheriting an economy that was languishing in recession and suffering from double-digit unemployment and inflation, Hawke embraced economic deregulation that belied his connections with Australia's largest trade unions. "They really, really liked to get near him and to touch him and to get him to sign the autographs and so forth". "So he was certainly Mr Popularity". "All Australians could connect with Bob Hawke", Morrison said. "Certainly, the Coalition supported almost all his big reforms, helping to make his tenure a time of economic revitalisation".

After his brother, Neil, died from meningitis in his teens, the family moved to Perth in Western Australia.

The grief-stricken parents devoted themselves to their younger son, who went on to become a Rhodes scholar at Oxford. As a 17-year-old, he suffered a traumatic motorcycle accident that almost cost him his life.

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His lifelong involvement with the labor movement began in 1958, when he joined the Australian Council of Trade Unions, first as a researcher and later as a union advocate.

He first won a seat in parliament in 1980 and became Labor leader in 1983.

Except, that is, for his tradition in his final years of chugging a beer on camera at sporting events to raucous cheers.

"Sadly, he didn't win the fight to be there on election night to see Labor form a government", the Labor leader told reporters. The rigid tax and license systems were overhauled and foreign banks were allowed entry into Australia. He went on to win three more elections, serving as prime minister until 1991.

"People say he was a typical Australian man, but in many respects he wasn't", said Ms Ryan.

He quit Parliament two months later and involved himself in business, particularly as a consultant in China, where he was said to have laid the foundation for the current robust economic relationship between Beijing and Canberra.

"I am nervous because it's a big day, it's a very big deal", Shorten said on Saturday.

Palmer's party could steal votes from Pauline Hanson's One Nation, a far-right, anti-Islam party recently embroiled in scandal, partly as the result of an Al Jazeera investigation which revealed it had tried to garner support from pro-gun groups in the United States. "He's my best friend".

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