Controversial cartoonist Bill Leak, who considered political correctness a poison, is being remembered by friends as a master artist who was "hounded to his grave" by critics of his satirical works.
Leak, 61, died in Gosford Hospital on Friday morning following a suspected heart attack.
The Australian newspaper's editor-in-chief Paul Whittaker described the nine-time Walkley Award winner as "a giant in his field of cartooning and portraiture and a towering figure for more than two decades" at the paper.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who knew Leak for more than 30 years, praised the cartoonist for being a "good-humoured sceptic of anybody and anything in authority" throughout his "far too short life".
"So many more cartoons to draw, paintings to paint, politicians to satirise," Mr Turnbull said on Facebook.
Leak launched his latest book on International Women's Day this week stating: "I guess the first thing I should do is apologise for not being a woman."
He declared on Wednesday that political correctness was "a poison that attacks the sense of humour".
The cartoonist was controversial in death with some opponents labelling him a racist.
"The death of bill leak (a racist) has left a huge (racist shaped) hole in the australian comics scene, I''m sure he'll be missed (by racists)," Melbourne-based cartoonist Jake Lawrence said on Twitter.
In a cartoon about indigenous parental neglect, published in August 2016, Leak depicted a police officer telling an Aboriginal man holding beer to talk to his son about personal responsibility.
The indigenous man replied: "Yeah righto. What's his name then?"
The cartoon prompted a racism complaint to the Human Rights Commission which was subsequently dropped.
Conservative figures, including federal coalition politicians, used it to argue section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act needed to be changed.
Spectator magazine editor Rowan Dean on Friday said his friend had been "hounded to his grave" for simply doing his job.
He pointed his finger at the "evil, evil" section 18C and the Human Rights Commission.
Dean said a fatwah issued against the cartoonist for poking fun at the prophet Mohammed forced Leak to sell his house and live in a secret location.
"(He was) determined to see the right things done by the right people and he has been hounded to his grave and it is disgusting."
The late art critic Robert Hughes, whose portrait Leak painted in 2001, described him as "the best painter never to have won the Archibald Prize".
Barry Humphries gatecrashed Wednesday's book launch in character as Sir Les Patterson and praised Leak as "Australia's Rembrandt, our Warhol".
Leak underwent brain surgery after being critically injured in a balcony fall in 2008 but had no memory of the accident.
He recalled suspecting a doctor was "having a lend of him" when he woke from a coma.
Whittaker said Leak was "simply irreplaceable" and expressed his sympathy to the cartoonist's wife, Goong, stepdaughter Tasha and sons Johannes and Jasper.