We're poorer for Hawke's death: Paul Keating

Bob Hawke and Paul Keating on the front steps of Parliament House in 1987. Picture: David James Bartho
Bob Hawke and Paul Keating on the front steps of Parliament House in 1987. Picture: David James Bartho

Canberra Labor's Katy Gallagher and Andrew Barr have led emotional tributes to Labor legend Bob Hawke.

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

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said Mr Hawke would be forever remembered as one of the nation's greatest leaders.

"Tears will be shed across the nation for Bob Hawke," Mr Barr said said.

"I am crying as I write this statement. Together with Paul Keating, he built modern Australia. Hawke and Keating reshaped the Australian economy and set our country up for nearly three decades of continuous economic growth.

"Beyond his numerous economic achievements, Bob paved the way for many significant social reforms in our country.

"His enduring legacy is Medicare and our world leading public health system."

Mr Barr said Mr Hawke was a great advocate for Canberra and did much to support the city's growth and prosperity.

He noted Mr Hawke's key role in granting the ACT self-government in 1988.

ACT Labor Senate candidate and former Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said Mr Hawke was a Labor hero.

"Bob Hawke was prime minister when I joined the Labor Party," she said.

"It was his government that inspired and showed me that what happens in politics matters and can help to shape the nation.

"A reformer, a supporter of equality, the architect of Medicare, he was and will remain a Labor hero.

Hawke and Keating at Labor's campaign launch for the 2019 federal election.

Hawke and Keating at Labor's campaign launch for the 2019 federal election.

"It's a very sad day for all of the true blue believers tonight."

Mr Hawke's successor Paul Keating described the legacy of their partnership as "the monumental foundations of modern Australia".

Together, Mr Hawke and Mr 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.

"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.

Unions ACT will on Friday hold a memorial for Bob Hawke, who they described as a "titan of the union movement".

The memorial will start at 5pm at the Unions ACT office - 11 London Circuit, Canberra. All are welcome.

"The entire Canberra union movement mourns the passing of Bob Hawke. Bob was a great Australian leader and prime minister, and as ACTU president he was a hero to working people," Unions ACT secretary Alex White said.

"We want to welcome Canberrans to pay their respects to Bob and his family, and join the entire union family in grieving. He will never be forgotten."

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