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Bob Hawke: Australia s former PM dies at 89

Bob Hawke: Australia s former PM dies at 89
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Former Australian prime minister and Labor Party leader Bob Hawke, who dominated the country s politics in the 1980s, has died at the age of 89.

The charismatic politician led the country from 1983 to 1991 and is credited with reforms that modernised the economy.

He remains the longest-serving prime minister of Australia s centre-left Labor Party.

His wife said in a statement that he died "peacefully at home".

"Today we lost Bob Hawke, a great Australian - many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era," Blanche D Alpuget said in a statement.

Mr Hawke joined the Labor Party at 18 in 1947 and would go on to win a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of Oxford in 1953.

He later joined the trade union movement, rising to become president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions by 1969.

He first won a seat in parliament in 1980 and became Labor leader in 1983. He and Labor won a general election by a landslide soon after.

Mr Hawke was known for his maverick style, and set a record for beer drinking while at Oxford. He cried publicly a number of times - most famously in 1989 at a memorial service at Parliament House following the crackdown on Chinese students at Beijing s Tiananmen square.

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

"Among his proudest achievements were large increases in the proportion of children finishing high school, his role in ending apartheid in South Africa, and his successful international campaign to protect Antarctica from mining," the statement from his family said.

It added that he "abhorred racism and bigotry" and "foresaw the Asian Century".

Tributes are pouring in for a man who was highly popular with the Australian public and led Labor to four election victories.
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