Australia’s longest-serving Labor PM Bob Hawke has passed away at the age of 89. Hawke held a Guinness world record for drinking beer.
Hawke’s wife, Blanche d’Alpuget, announced that the popular and charismatic political leader had passed away peacefully in his sleep at the of 89. His wife said that he was “the greatest Australian of the post-war era,” adding, “We will miss him. The golden bowl is broken.”
Hawke was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University in England, where he earned a Guinness world record by downing 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. In 1995, Hawke wrote in his autobiography, “This feat was to endear me to some of my fellow Australians more than anything else I ever achieved.” In 1980, he wrote off alcohol and was elected to Parliament, where he became a spokesman for industrial relations, employment and youth.
Maree Me wrote, “30 years ago he granted asylum to all Chinese students in Australia after Tiananmen Sq massacre. My mum was one of them. My family are forever grateful for this opportunity to live and thrive in this beautiful and democratic country.” Since Hawke’s passing, some incredible tributes have been put forward for him. Tracey Corbin Matchett wrote, “As a child struggling with my Nan’s death, I wrote to PM Bob Hawke, to help my young mind understand why we die. His letter back to me is my most treasured childhood memory!”
Former UK PM Tony Blair wrote, “Bob Hawke was a huge figure and someone I deeply admired, liked and learned from, a genuine giant in anyone’s politics. He was an immensely successful leader of Australia but he also impacted all of us round the world who were looking for a sustainable model of government which combined strong economies with high levels of social justice and investment in the most disadvantaged sections of society.”
He added, “Sharp, with a marvellous strategic political mind, and concealing a first class intellect behind that friendly and ‘good bloke’ exterior, he was wonderful and warm company, and from the first time I met him back in 1982 always willing to reach out and help younger politicians. A true model for so many of us. He will be greatly missed.”
Tony Burke wrote, “The Bob Hawke I admired was the man who saved the Franklin, the Daintree, Kakadu and protected Antarctica from mining. The Bob Hawke I befriended and laughed with every New Year’s Eve was a fellow music fan with Blanche every summer at Woodford Folk Festival. What a life!”
Rest in peace!