Bob Hawke: Australia's former PM dies at 89

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 18, 2019

Australians began voting in a federal election on Saturday, with bookies predicting a return to power for the Labor party after six years in the political wilderness and a campaign in which it has put climate change and tax reform at the top of its agenda.

His former rival and the man who succeeded him as Labor leader and prime minister, Paul Keating, said that the pair had enjoyed a "great partnership".

Hawke won support from the political left to float the Australian dollar, remove controls on foreign exchange and interest rates and lower tariffs on imports within months of his inauguration.

As Australia mourns the loss of one of our most beloved leaders - former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who died last night at the age of 89 - former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has offered his own deeply shitty statement.

"During the Prime Ministership of Mr. Hawke from 1983 to 1991, the relationship between Papua New Guinea and Australia matured, diversified and was mutually beneficial and for that our country thanks him".

"Today we lost Bob Hawke, a great Australian - many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era", Blanche d'Alpuget added.

Never voted out by the public, which forgave him his faults, he won four elections on the run beginning in 1983, and only left office following a party room coup. After scoring several high-profile wins before the Arbitration Commission, Hawke rose through the ranks of the ACTU and was elected its president in 1969.

"Bob Hawke was the greatest peacetime leader Australia has ever had".

Hawke earned his reputation as a larrikin in part due to his setting of a world record for drinking a "yard" (1.4 litres) of beer in 11 seconds while at Oxford University. A January 2012 video of a then-82-year-old Hawke chugging a beer at a cricket match as cheering and laughing fans shouted, "One for the country, Robert!" exceeds a million hits on YouTube. Both parties have changed their rules to make dumping a prime minister between elections more hard. Australia is a better place because of him.

Hawke divorced his wife of almost 40 years, Hazel Masterson, after leaving politics and public life and married his biographer, Blanche d'Alpuget.

Scott Morrison, the incumbent prime minister, extended his condolences to Hawke's family and paid tribute Thursday on social media. The charismatic leader was also able to use his trade union experience to form a consensus between unions and employers.

The final Newspoll of the campaign has Labor ahead of the coalition 51.5 to 48.5 on a two-party preferred basis, while the latest Ipsos poll shows Labor in front 51-49.

But as Australia plunged into recession, Hawke's enormous popularity began to wane and his rule as prime minister finally ended on December 20, 1991, when he was ousted by his own party.

"The entire union movement grieves for the passing of Bob Hawke". He retired from Parliament the following year.

He cried publicly a number of times - most famously in 1989 at a memorial service at Parliament House following the crackdown on Chinese students at Beijing's Tiananmen square.

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