Bob Hawke, Australia’s 23rd prime minister and former Labor Party leader, died on Thursday, May 16, just days ahead of a federal election.
Hawke, 89, served from 1983 to 1991.
He died peacefully in his sleep in the evening, with his wife, Blanche d’Alpuget at his side.
Ms d’Alpuget released a statement saying that he had passed away peacefully at home in Sydney.
“I and Bob’s children, Sue, Stephen, Rosslyn and stepson, Louis, and his grandchildren, will hold a private funeral,” the statement read.
“A memorial service will be held in Sydney in coming weeks.”
The statement concluded by saying that “Bob was dearly loved by his family, and so many friends and colleagues. We will miss him. The golden bowl is broken.”
Hawke’s death comes just two days before the federal election, something he predicted in December he would not see because of his ill health.
Hawke was one of Australia’s longest-serving prime ministers—he won four federal elections. He is the Labor party’s longest-serving prime minister, and is the country’s third longest-serving prime minister, behind Robert Menzies and John Howard.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement: “Bob Hawke was a great Australian who led and served our country with passion, courage, and an intellectual horsepower that made our country stronger.
“He was true to his beliefs in the Labor tradition and defined the politics of his generation and beyond.
“He had a unique ability to speak to all Australians and will be greatly missed.
“My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with Bob’s widow Blanche and his family. May he Rest In Peace.”
He had a unique ability to speak to all Australians and will be greatly missed.
My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with Bob’s widow Blanche and his family. May he Rest In Peace.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) May 16, 2019
Leader of the opposition centre-left Labor Party, Bill Shorten, said in a statement:
“With his passing, the labour movement salutes our greatest son.
“Australians everywhere remember and honour a man who gave so much to the country and people he cared for so deeply.”
The labour movement salutes our greatest son.
Australians everywhere remember and honour a man who gave so much to the country and people he cared for so deeply.
May he rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/NzKwxW1e4X
— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) May 16, 2019
Robert James Lee Hawke was first elected to parliament in 1980 and was named leader of Australia’s center-left Labor Party in 1983.
In the same year, Labor won against the conservative government led by Malcolm Fraser, who had been in power for nearly a decade, and as such Hawke became Australia’s 23rd prime minister.
“I regard Bob Hawke as the best Labor prime minister this country has ever had,” former conservative leader John Howard, who served as Fraser’s treasurer, said this year.
Inheriting an economy that was languishing in recession and suffering from double-digit unemployment and inflation, Hawke embraced economic deregulation.
Hawke floated the Australian dollar, removed controls on foreign exchange and interest rates and lowered tariffs on imports within months of his inauguration. The reforms triggered a wave of economic growth.
The Hawke government introduced universal healthcare, strengthened social security for poor families and enacted stronger environmental legislation.
Hawke was replaced by Paul Keating at the end of 1991.
He quit politics three months later.
After leaving politics and public life, Hawke divorced his wife of nearly 40 years, Hazel Masterson.
He later married his biographer, Blanche d’Alpuget.
He appeared as a media commentator and was in demand as a public speaker.
Hawke was the oldest living former Australian Prime Minister.
Reuters contributed to this article