Australia's election candidates mourn Bob Hawke, former PM dead at 89

Bob Hawke drinks Hawke's Lager at the launch of Hawke's Lager at The Clock Hotel

Bob Hawke drinks Hawke's Lager at the launch of Hawke's Lager at The Clock Hotel

Should the opposition Labor party win, Australia will likely have its seventh prime minister since 2010.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott issued this message after news broke about Hawke's death last night.

In contrast, other politicians from all sides of parliament paid their respects for Hawke.

The death of Bob Hawke on the eve of the Australian federal elections has deprived the country of one of its most prominent and respected post-war voices.

Mr Robert James Lee Hawke was born on Dec 9, 1929, in Bordertown in South Australia, the younger of two sons.

Within months of Hawke becoming prime minister, Australia won sailing's America's Cup in 1983, ending 132 years of US dominance over the oldest trophy in world sport. He started his political apprenticeship at the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), having completed his legal education at the University of Western Australia.

Hawke was riding high in opinion polls by the mid-1980s and won re-election in 1987 despite an economic downturn.

"This feat was to endear me to some of my fellow Australians more than anything else I ever achieved", Hawke wrote of the 1955 stunt in his autobiography.

Except, that is, for his tradition in his final years of chugging a beer on camera at sporting events to raucous cheers. Australia is a better place because of him.

Hawke was an advocate for Jews in the Soviet Union during his tenure as prime minister, pushing Russian leaders to improve relations with Israel and allow refuseniks to emigrate to the Jewish State.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison called him "a great Australian", adding that he had "a unique ability to speak to all Australians and will be greatly missed".

Turnbull was the second prime minister to be ousted while in office by the ruling Liberal Party amid deep divisions over climate and energy policy. Hawke would later separate from Hazel, who was well respected by the Australian public, and marry his biographer, Blanche d'Alpuget, in 1995.

The country has had six changes of prime minister over the past 12 years - mostly the result of internal party fights.

He came to power preaching consensus and, through his intimate knowledge of both the trade union and business communities, was able to forge a wage accord that helped to minimize industrial disputes.

Voters quickly embraced Hawke and Labor won an unlikely landslide victory against the conservative government led by Malcolm Fraser, who had been in power for almost a decade, for Hawke to become Australia's 23rd prime minister.

The Hawke government also supported the national Landcare movement, the concept of grassroots communities supporting sustainable development policies and repairing the natural environments in which they are based. He retired from Parliament the following year.

Hawke led the celebrations, famously sticking up of anyone who might over-do the revelry, declaring on television: "Any boss that sacks a worker for not turning up is a bum".

"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.

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