Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke has died at the age of 89.
The Labor legend, who led Australia from 1983 – 1991, passed away peacefully at home on Thursday according to a statement released by his wife Blanche d’Alpuget and his three children — Susan, Stephen and Rosslyn.
“Today we lost Bob Hawke, a great Australian — many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era,” the statement read.
“He died peacefully at home at the age of 89 years.
“I and Bob’s children, Sue, Stephen, Rosslyn and stepson, Louis, and his grandchildren, will hold a private funeral.
“A memorial service will be held in Sydney in coming weeks.”
The statement said Hawke “abhorred racism and bigotry” and that “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.”
Former Prime Minister Hawke’s legacy also includes free healthcare in the form of Medicare. He was also admired for his colourful, larrikin spirit and love of a beer; he broke the world record when he skolled a yard of beer in 11 seconds when he was at university.
News presenters struggled to hold back tears as they broke the news on Thursday night, and many prominent Australians, including former Prime Ministers Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, took to social media to pay tribute to the iconic Australian.
His death comes just days before Australians head to the polls to vote for the next Prime Minister. Just this week, Mr Hawke endorsed Labor leader Bill Shorten.
Bob Hawke has died.
A great man who made this country confident.
A great man who never lost his humility.
Guinness book of records 1954 , 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds.
Trade Union Leader.
Thanks for everything
— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) May 16, 2019
Bob Hawke was the greatest peacetime leader Australia has ever had.
As a teenager Bob inspired me, as a PM he guided me.
I will miss him. I wish so very much that Bob had been able to see one more election day.
My condolences to Blanche, his children and grandchildren. pic.twitter.com/4wPHdIeBUZ
— Julia Gillard (@JuliaGillard) May 16, 2019
— Alice Workman (@workmanalice) May 16, 2019
— ABC Politics (@politicsabc) May 16, 2019
Bob Hawke’s speech in the aftermath of Tiananmen is one of the most compelling examples of raw and empathetic leadership. Seems bygone in Australia today pic.twitter.com/pigTepABgQ
— John Harding-Easson (@JHEasson) May 16, 2019
My words are not enough to express who Bob Hawke was to our movement, and our country. A Labor giant, a beloved Australian. Labor governments change the country. None more so than his. pic.twitter.com/wtDPQHFKau
— Senator Penny Wong (@SenatorWong) May 16, 2019
Vale #BobHawke So many things to be grateful to him for – not least of all Medicare, protecting world heritage sites and the Franklin dam. The world will be a little bit less larrikin tomorrow – what a pity 🙏🏻 https://t.co/ZwC0vsN8gc
— Magda Szubanski AO (@MagdaSzubanski) May 16, 2019