Bob Hawke, one of Australia’s longest-serving Prime Ministers and a champion of the trade union movement, has died peacefully at the age of 89.
Known affectionately as “Hawkie,” Hawke was Australia’s Prime Minister from 1983 to 1991, winning four elections and becoming the country’s third longest-serving leader.
His wife, Blanche D’Alpuget, released a statement on Thursday describing her husband as “the greatest Australian of the post-war era.”
“Bob Hawke and Paul Keating and their governments modernised the Australian economy, paving the way for an unprecedented period of recession-free economic growth and job creation,” her statement said.
Bob Hawke takes a drink at the launch of Hawke’s Lager at Sydney’s Clock Hotel in April 2017.
A Rhodes scholar who graduated from Oxford University in 1956, Hawke quickly rose through the ranks of Australia’s trade union movement to become the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions in 1970, according to the Museum of Australian Democracy.
In 1983, after serving in parliament for just three years, he became Australia’s Prime Minister in a landslide election victory.
That success revived Hawke’s Labor Party, ushering in a sustained period of rule that lasted until 1996.
Hawke served as Prime Minister for almost nine of those 13 years, winning three more polls in the process and cementing his legacy as the party’s longest-serving and most electorally successful leader.