Bob Hawke's Final Days Were Spent Fighting For Labor

Bob Hawke's final days were spent -- as so much of his life was -- in support of the Labor party.

Although ill health forced the Australian icon to miss the Labor campaign launch on May 4, he united with his former colleague Paul Keating to endorse Labor leader Bill Shorten's economic plan.

It was their first joint statement in 28 years. It would also be their last.

On Thursday, the 23rd Prime Minister of Australia died at home at the age of 89.

"With Bob Hawke’s passing today, the great partnership I enjoyed with him passes too," Keating said in a statement.

"A partnership formed with the Australian people."

Bob Hawke Paul Keating
Bob Hawke Prime Minister of Australia (1983 - 1991) with Paul Keating at NSW State Election in 1988 in Australia. Photo: Getty.

In the days before Hawke's death, he and Keating buried their decades of bitterness to support Labor and Bill Shorten.

"The economy is Labor's," the pair said in a statement, published by the Sydney Morning Herald.

bob hawke craig emerson

The day before his death, Hawke released a letter endorsing Shorten's leadership.

"Bravery, honesty and vision are needed of the next Australian government," Hawke said.

"Laying out a party's detailed policies ahead of an election requires political courage. Bill and his team have shown that courage, trusting the fair-mindedness of the Australian people."

He added: "Labor's political opponents are seeking to divide and frighten Australians ahead of this election -- just as they did back in 1983 when I was seeking the Prime Ministership. It didn't work then, and it won't work now."

bob hawke bill shorten
Bob Hawke greets leader of the opposition Bill Shorten (L) at the Labor Party campaign launch in Sydney on June 19, 2016. Photo: AAP.

Hawke passed away two days before the federal election.

"Bob, of course, was hoping for a Labor victory this weekend," Keating said.

"His friends too were hoping he could see this."

Keating and Hawke, once former friends, had a great falling out in the 1980s.

"We're not mates," Hawke said in recent years. "We don't pretend to be mates, but we have a civil relationship."

PHOTO: Getty Images

After Hawke's passing, Keating paid emotional tribute to his former friend and long-time rival.

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

"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."

Keating said Hawke's family including his wife Blanche and his three children, Susan, Stephen and Rosslyn would be "eternally proud".

"The country is much the poorer for Bob Hawke’s passing."