Bob Hawke remembered for his 'larrikin wit', as tributes for former Australian PM flow in

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reflected on the "larrikin wit" of former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke, who he says made the nation stronger.

Mr Hawke died at his Sydney home yesterday aged 89, his wife Blanche d'Alpuget has confirmed.

The prime minister took time out from his election campaign yesterday evening to make a statement as he touched down in Townsville.

Mr Morrison said while Mr Hawke's achievements would be revered in coming days, Australians would most remember "the bloke" he was.

"He made Australia stronger through his contribution to public life. He had a great intellect. He had enormous passion and he had courage," he said.

"That was able to sustain him in being the longest-serving Labor prime minister of all time.

"But it was his ability to connect with everyday Australians - with a word, with that larrikin wit, with that connection and an understanding of everyday Australian life that we will most remember Bob Hawke."

Mr Morrison also noted that during Mr Hawke's tenure in the top job, he changed the national anthem to Advance Australia Fair, which includes the line "Australians all let us rejoice".

"I think we can all say as Australians all, that we rejoice in the life of Bob Hawke.

"We thank him for his service to our nation and we pray now that he rest in peace. Thank you, Bob."

FILE - In this undated file photo, Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, center, and Mrs. Hazel Hawke meet Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on her arrival at Fairbairn C.A.A.F. base in Canberra, Australia during Thatcher's trip to Australia.  Hawke, one of Australia's longest-serving prime ministers, has died at age 89.(AP Photo/Rick Stevens, File)
Then Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, centre, and Mrs Hazel Hawke meet UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Source: Associated Press

Labor leader Bill Shorten also paid tribute, saying Bob Hawke's legacy will live forever in an Australia he brought together.

"Tonight the nation and Labor are in mourning. We have lost a favourite son," Mr Shorten said in Sydney.

"Bob Hawke loved Australia and Australia loved Bob Hawke," Mr Shorten said.

"But his legacy will endure forever. Bob Hawke changed Australia for the better. He brought people together, he brought Australia together, he modernised our economy, he transformed our society, he protected our environment."

Mr Shorten said he last saw Mr Hawke at his Sydney home last week.

"He had the sun on his face, a crossword in front of him, a cup of tea. He didn't speak about himself to me. He did, as he always does, asked about the ALP and the election," Mr Shorten said.

"We all loved Bob Hawke. We'll miss him a great deal. May he rest in peace.

"The condolences of my party and my movement to the great Bob Hawke."

Together, Mr Hawke and one-time treasurer and successor Paul Keating transformed Australia's economy, negotiating an accord with unions to reduce strikes and restrain wages, floating the dollar and deregulating the financial system.

The pair also overhauled the tax system, slashing tariffs and introducing enterprise bargaining.

Mr Keating yesterday evening issued a statement describing the legacy of his partnership with Mr Hawke as "the monumental foundations of modern Australia".

He also said the two of them had delighted in supporting Bill Shorten last week, with Mr Hawke hoping for a Labor win in this weekend's federal election.

The duo's relationship was tested when each, with a trusted witness, signed the secret Kirribilli House pact in late 1988 where Mr Hawke promised to hand over to Mr Keating after the 1990 election.

He reneged and after one failed attempt, Mr Keating toppled him in December 1991. It was the first time Labor had voted out a serving prime minister.

But the pair made amends, jointly backing Mr Shorten for Saturday's election.

"With Bob Hawke's passing today, the great partnership I enjoyed with him passes too. A partnership we forged with the Australian people," Mr Keating said.

"But what remains and what will endure from that partnership are the monumental foundations of modern Australia.

"In what was our last collaboration, Bob and I were delighted to support Bill Shorten last week in recounting the rationale we employed in opening Australia to the world.

"Bob, of course, was hoping for a Labor victory this weekend. His friends, too, were hoping he would see this.

"Bob possessed a moral framework for his important public life, both representing the workers of Australia and more broadly, the country at large.

"He understood that imagination was central to policy-making and never lacked the courage to do what had to be done to turn that imagination into reality ... and that reality was the reformation of Australia's economy and society and its place in the world.

"No one will miss Bob more than his wife, Blanche, who very sweetly, attended his every need, particularly in these later years.

"His children, Susan, Stephen and Rosslyn loved their father and were deeply committed to the precepts of his public life.

"Bob's death will be an enormous loss to them and their children, of whom, he was eternally proud. The country is much the poorer for Bob Hawke's passing."

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    Mr Hawke dominated the country’s politics in the 1980s and is credited with modernising the economy. Source: Breakfast

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