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Australia mourns 'bloody legend' Bob Hawke with emotional tributes

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  • Bob Hawke
    Australian politician, 23rd Prime Minister of Australia (1929-2019)
  • Scott Morrison
    30th Prime Minister of Australia

Australians of all political persuasions have expressed grief over the death of former Prime Minister Bob Hawke.

Following the news of Hawke’s passing on Thursday evening, social media was flooded with tributes to the 23rd Prime Minister of Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison reflected on the "larrikin wit" of the late leader, who he said made the nation stronger.

Mr Morrison said while Mr Hawke's achievements would be revered in coming days, Australians would most remember "the bloke" he was.

"He made Australia stronger through his contribution to public life. He had a great intellect. He had enormous passion and he had courage," he said.

"That was able to sustain him in being the longest-serving Labor prime minister of all time.

"But it was his ability to connect with everyday Australians - with a word, with that larrikin wit, with that connection and an understanding of everyday Australian life that we will most remember Bob Hawke."

Mr Morrison also noted that during Mr Hawke's tenure in the top job, he changed the national anthem to Advance Australia Fair, which includes the line "Australians all let us rejoice".

"I think we can all say as Australians all, that we rejoice in the life of Bob Hawke."

"We thank him for his service to our nation and we pray now that he rest in peace. Thank you Bob."

Opposition leader Bill Shorten was among those to pay tribute, saying 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," he said in a statement.

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

"He was a leader of conviction – and a builder of consensus. But for Bob, consensus and co-operation never meant pursuing the lowest common denominator."

Former Prime Minister of Australia Bob Hawke. Source: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Former Prime Minister of Australia Bob Hawke. Source: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Fellow former Prime Ministers Paul Keating, Julia Gillard, Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd posted tributes to the widely loved leader.

“Bob possessed a moral framework for his important public life, both representing the workers of Australia and more broadly, the country at large,” Mr Keating said in a statement.

“He understood that imagination was central to policy-making and never lacked the courage to do what had to be done to turn that imagination into reality.

“The country is much the poorer for Bob Hawke’s passing.”

Malcolm Turnbull bid farewell to the “great Australian, Labor leader and reforming Prime Minister”, and added that “Australia is a better place because of him.”

Julia Gillard remembered Hawke as the "greatest peacetime leader Australia has ever had".

"As a teenager Bob inspired me, as a PM he guided me,” she said.

"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."

Kevin Rudd called Hawke “a giant of Australian politics”.

“He and Paul Keating internationalised the Australian economy. He established APEC and radically deepened Australia’s engagement with Asia. He established Medicare,” he said. “Together with [my wife] Therese and the entire nation, I mourn his passing.”

Hollywood actor Russell Crowe said Hawke was “a great man who made this country confident” on his Twitter page.

“A great man who never lost his humility. Guinness book of records 1954, 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. Rhodes Scholar. Trade Union Leader. Prime Minister. Statesman. Thanks for everything Mr Hawke.”

There was no shortage of ordinary pundits publicly posting their grief over the death of the much-loved identity and leader.

“No matter which way you lean politically, a caliber of Prime Minster that to date has never since been emulated,” one Twitter user said.

“Cheers to you mate, may your legacy live on and may you Rest In Peace.”

Another added: “Bob Hawke was one of the first world leaders to recognise Climate Change, and attempt to address it with real policy back in the late 80s and early 90s. He wasn't perfect, but he was definitely brave, and we owe him quite a lot.”

“Raise your Yard Glasses to one of the Best Blokes let alone PM's we've had the good fortune to have guided the country #RipHawkie,” one person said.

Amelia Chappelow shared: “I adored Bob Hawke but especially so as a child... when I was 7 I wrote asking him his favourite color & football team. He wrote back! It was yellow and @HawthornFC (Hawthorn Football Club)”.

Another said: “Today we lost a bloody legend”.

One touching tribute that was posted to social media was from a woman who said she had written to Hawke as child when she was mourning the death of her grandmother. The then-Prime Minister had sent her a letter back in which he tried to help her “young mind understand why we die”.

The impact he left on the life of one woman who spoke out about his legacy was particularly huge. Amanda Cheng said “the only reason” she lives in Australia “is because of Bob Hawke”, explaining that her mother was one of the students the Prime Minister gave asylum to after the atrocity of Tiananmen Square.

“I would not be in such a lucky country without him. RIP to a great man,” she said.

Journalist John Birmingham posted: “I am actually tearing up about Bob Hawke. I think because it feels like we've also lost so much that he fought for. We haven't. But it still feels like a great and terrible loss.”

More than a few, in the true spirit of Hawke, simply shared one of his famous quotes, which he declared in 1983 when Australia II won the legendary America's Cup: “Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up tomorrow is a bum.”

With AAP

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