Former prime minister Bob Hawke remembered as ‘great Australian’

Former prime minister Bob Hawke remembered as ‘great Australian’

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Politicians, celebrities and admirers have paid tribute to former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke for his political achievements, affable character and remarkable ability to drink beer, after his death aged 89.

Mr Hawke’s wife and biographer Blanche d’Alpuget said he died on Thursday at their Sydney home.

Among the celebrities offering their condolences was Hollywood star Russell Crowe, whose tribute encapsulated much of the feeling towards Mr Hawke on Twitter.

“A great man who made this country confident. A great man who never lost his humility,” Crowe tweeted. “Guinness book of records 1954, 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. Rhodes Scholar. Trade Union Leader. Prime Minister. Statesman.

“Thanks for everything Mr Hawke.”

As mentioned by Crowe, in 1954, while at Oxford University, Mr Hawke earned a world record for the fastest time to drink a yard of beer, finishing it in 11 seconds.

The image of Mr Hawke downing a beer has become a lasting one, with the former politician repeatedly showing off his skills to cameras at sports events despite passing his 80th birthday in recent years.

Australian professional golfer Aron Price shared a video of himself taking on Mr Hawke at his own game, being narrowly defeated by the aged statesman.

“I was lucky enough to share a few rounds of golf and a few rounds of beers with the great Bob Hawke,” tweeted the sportsman. “A great man you could never forget. RIP legend.”

Many on Twitter paid tribute to Mr Hawke’s signature party trick, suggesting people should raise a glass for him.

“If we don’t have a beer and skull it in honour of Bob Hawke tomorrow you wouldn’t be a fair dinkum Aussie,” tweeted Australian Paul Dutton.

Cartoonist Edmund Iffland created an illustration to say farewell, showing Mr Hawke’s famous Australia jacket sat on the back of a chair with a beer mat on top of his drink of choice.

Meanwhile from politics, current Australian leader Scott Morrison described his predecessor as “a great Australian” who “defined the politics of his generation”.

Mr Morrison tweeted: “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.”

Mr Morrison is leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, while Mr Hawke led their opponents the Australian Labour Party.

Current Australian Labour Leader Bill Shorten described Mr Hawke as the movement’s “greatest son” while former leader Julia Gillard called him “the greatest peacetime leader Australia has ever had”.

Australians everywhere remember and honour a man who gave so much to the country and people he cared for so deeply,” tweeted Mr Shorten. “May he rest in peace.”

“As a teenager Bob inspired me, as a PM he guided me,” tweeted Ms Gillard. “I will miss him. I wish so very much that Bob had been able to see one more election day.”

The 2019 Australian federal election takes place on Saturday May 18.

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