SYDNEY: Australia's longest-serving Labor prime minister Bob Hawke died Thursday aged 89, his wife announced.
"Today we lost Bob Hawke, a great Australian -- many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era," his second wife Blanche d'Alpuget said in a statement.
"He died peacefully at home." The son of a preacher, Hawke led his country during the 1980s, a period during which he seduced the nation with his everyman appeal while beginning deregulation of the economy, including floating the dollar.
From negotiating with Frank Sinatra to ensure the crooner's 1974 Sydney concerts went ahead to shedding tears over bloodshed in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, Hawke was a huge presence on Australia's political landscape.
Never voted out by the public, which forgave him his faults, he won four elections on the run beginning in 1983, and only left office following a party room coup.
To many he was a quintessential Australian "larrikin" -- a beloved rogue. His death comes days before Australians go to the polls. The Labor party posted a tribute on Twitter to one of their most fondly-remembered characters.
"Vale Bob. We will remember him. In solidarity, forever. May he rest in peace."