Former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke passes away

The NT News 
TOMORROW’S FRONT PAGE

The NT News TOMORROW’S FRONT PAGE

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 wife, Blanche d'Alpuget, confirmed the legendary Aussie died peacefully died at home last night at the age of 89.

"Today we lost Bob Hawke, a great Australian - many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era". The future politician went on to become a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University.

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

Online bookmaker Sportsbet is tipping a win for Shorten - paying just 1.14 Australian dollars ($0.78) for Labor to be "sworn in government".

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is on course for defeat at this weekend's national election, a political poll showed on Friday, as campaigning ahead of the ballot was overshadowed by the death one of the country's most beloved former leaders.

Because of questions about his reported womanising and drinking - which earned him a world record for drinking a yard-glass of beer, about three pints, in the fastest time - he gave up the booze. A memorial service will be held in Sydney in coming weeks.

He was known for his concern for Australia's vulnerable, once declaring that he wanted to create a country where there were "no second-class Australians". Medicare. Superannuation. Modern Australia.

While polls show most Australians support stronger action to tackle climate change, Morrison's coalition strongly supports the coal industry.

He also spearheaded worldwide efforts to impose economic sanctions on South Africa over apartheid.

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He "abhorred racism and bigotry", it added, and "foresaw the Asian Century".

As news broke of Hawke's passing, many of Australia's former leaders offered their heartfelt condolences, including Hawke's Treasurer and successor, Paul Keating, who said the nation had suffered "an enormous loss". Many have reminisced about their favourite Hawke moment while others have touched on how he changed the country for the better.

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.

But his antics belied a sharp political mind that understood the need to build consensus and keep the voters on his side.

But some of his reforms were clearly too ambitious - he did not achieve his goal of "no Australian child living in poverty".

Despite losing office and divorcing his wife to marry his long-term mistress, Bob Hawke regularly appeared in public, his reputation restored and his place in history assured.

Robert James Lee Hawke was born on December 9, 1929 in South Australia.

What has the reaction been?

"The labour movement salutes our greatest son", tweeted Bill Shorten, current Labor Party leader.

In this October 17, 1985, file photo, then Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, left, meets then Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Nassau, Bahamas.

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