Australia’s ex-premier Bob Hawke dies at 89

Canberra: Australia’s former prime minister and Labor party leader Bob Hawke has died, aged 89.
“Today we lost Bob Hawke, a great Australian — many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era,” Hawke’s wife Blanche d’Alpuget said in a statement on Thursday.  She said he died peacefully at home in Sydney. Hawke is survived by his wife and three children.
Hawke was prime minister from 1983 to 1991 and remains the longest-serving prime minister from the centre-left Labor party.
He and his successor Paul Keating are known for modernising the Australian economy, “paving the way for an unprecedented period of recession-free economic growth and job creation,” d’Alpuget said.
She said the family will hold a private funeral and a memorial service in Sydney in the coming weeks.  Hawke was a charismatic leader. His popularity amongst ordinaryAustralians earned him folk hero status.
He is known for setting a record for downing two and a half pints of beer in 11 seconds while he was at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar in 1955. His photo is still hanging in the bar.
“This feat was to endear me to some of my fellow Australians more than anything else I ever achieved,” Hawke wrote in his autobiography.
Opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten paid tribute to Hawke, saying the movement salutes its “greatest son.”
“In Australian history, in Australian politics, there will always be… Before Hawke and After Hawke. After Hawke, we were a different country. A kinder, better, bigger and bolder country,” Shorten said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is from the opposing Liberal Party, said Hawke led the country with “passion, courage, and an intellectual horsepower that made our country stronger.”
“Profoundly Australian, Bob Hawke was a conviction politician who became a political legend,” Morrison said in a statement.  — dpa