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Bob Hawke’s tearful widow Blanche d’Alpuget leads tributes

Bob Hawke’s tearful widow Blanche d’Alpuget joins thousands of Australians who have gathered to say their final goodbyes to political giant and ‘larrikin’ former Prime Minister Bob Hawke. 

More than 2,000 people crammed inside the the Sydney Opera House for the service, while thousands of others were forced to watch the televised broadcast on the steps outside.   

The 90-minute state memorial service for the longest serving Labor leader was attended by every living prime minister except Julia Gillard – who is currently overseas – as well as other key figures in the late 89-year-old’s life.

His widow, with whom he was married 24 years, was joined by Mr Hawke’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren inside the service.

 

Bob Hawke’s tearful widow Blanche d’Alpuget joins thousands of Australians who have gathered to say their final goodbyes to political giant and ‘larrikin’ former Prime Minister Bob Hawke

His wife, Blanche d'Alpuget (pictured right) said the final year of Mr Hawke's life was both difficult and one of the best time of their lives because of how close they were

His wife, Blanche d’Alpuget (pictured right) said the final year of Mr Hawke’s life was both difficult and one of the best time of their lives because of how close they were

Mr Hawke died peacefully at his Sydney home on May 16

Mr Hawke died peacefully at his Sydney home on May 16

Mr Hawke died peacefully at his Sydney home on May 16.   

His former staffer and adviser Craig Emerson was MC for the day, which has been described as a festive celebration of Mr Hawke’s life.

Mr Emerson said the service was ‘a joyous occasion’ with ‘tears of joy.’ 

The flags above Sydney Harbour Bridge and Victorian Parliament were flown at half mast today for the service. 

Mr Hawke’s successor and sometime rival Paul Keating offered his condolences.

Mr Hawke and Mr Keating had a long-running political feud but reunited in later years. 

Barrie Cassidy said: ‘It’s a day of joy, it’s a day of celebration and we’ve got a lot to celebrate. 

His widow, with whom he was married 24 years, was joined by Mr Hawke's children, grandchildren and great grandchildren inside the service

His widow, with whom he was married 24 years, was joined by Mr Hawke’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren inside the service

Memorials and tributes dedicated to Mr Hawke were shared across Australia following his death

Memorials and tributes dedicated to Mr Hawke were shared across Australia following his death

The memorial will be televised from the Opera House from 11.30am

The memorial will be televised from the Opera House from 11.30am

‘Saying farewell to Bob here at Australia’s most iconic building is a tribute to him because he will be known as one of Australia’s most iconic people.’ 

Four generations of the Hawke family attended the ceremony, along with Mr and Mrs Morrison, diplomats, the Governor General and members of the public.

The PM was the first to speak at the ceremony, where Mr Morrison paid tribute to a man ‘he only knew from a distance.  

‘Today I come to speak on behalf of a nation Bob Hawke loved and which loved him in return,’ Mr Morrison said.

‘It was a passionate and affectionate relationship between Bob and the Australian people. They knew each other well. 

‘They forgave each others’ short comings. They understood each others’ virtues, there was trust, there was faith in each other. 

‘The 80s in Australia will always be the Hawke era,’ he said.

‘We thank Bob Hawke for loving Australia and loving Australians with every fibre of his being.’ 

The state memorial service for Mr Hawke, who died peacefully at his Sydney home on May 16, will be broadcast from 11.30am on Friday

The state memorial service for Mr Hawke, who died peacefully at his Sydney home on May 16, will be broadcast from 11.30am on Friday

Mr Hawke (left) and his successor had an alleged long-running feud but reunited in their later years. Mr Keating (right) is expected to speak at the late 89-year-old's memorial

Mr Hawke (left) and his successor had an alleged long-running feud but reunited in their later years. Mr Keating (right) is expected to speak at the late 89-year-old’s memorial

His widow Blanche, daughter Sue and granddaughter Sophie also spoke at the service. 

Labor leader Anthony Albanese offered a touching tribute to arguably his party’s most well-loved former leader.

‘How do you begin to measure a giant,’ he said.

‘Farewell Bob, you go with the nation’s gratitude. You go with the nation’s respect and you go with the nation’s love.’

Kim Beazley offered the eulogy at the end of Mr Albanese’s speech, offering a lighthearded suggestion that he could be referred to as ‘Kimbo’ after the ‘very Australian’ ScoMo and Albo took to the stage.

His widow Blanche, daughter Sue and granddaughter Sophie also spoke at the service

His widow Blanche, daughter Sue and granddaughter Sophie also spoke at the service

Former PM Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy arrived at the Sydney Opera House to pay their respects

Former PM Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy arrived at the Sydney Opera House to pay their respects

The PM was the first to speak at the ceremony, where Mr Morrison paid tribute to a man 'he only knew from a distance

The PM was the first to speak at the ceremony, where Mr Morrison paid tribute to a man ‘he only knew from a distance

Ahead of the service, Mr Hawke’s son Stephen said while there were many public memories of his father, to him he was simply ‘my dad’.

‘It’s really not much more complicated than that – he was me old man,’ he told ABC television.

‘He wasn’t the perfect father but he was very much a loving father and was loved in return by all of us.’ 

Memorials and tributes dedicated to Mr Hawke were shared across Australia following his death. 

Former Labor leader Bill Shorten and his wife Chloe arrived at the Sydney Opera House

Former Labor leader Bill Shorten and his wife Chloe arrived at the Sydney Opera House

Mr Hawke was the longest serving Labor prime minister and introduced historical reforms into parliament during his time as the nation's leader

Mr Hawke was the longest serving Labor prime minister and introduced historical reforms into parliament during his time as the nation’s leader

BOB HAWKE’S ACHIEVEMENTS AS PM

  • Opened the economy by floating the dollar and deregulating the financial system.
  • Cut tariffs and reformed the tax system.
  • Established Medicare in 1984.
  • Led international efforts to protect Antarctica from mining and to save Tasmania’s Franklin Dam.
  • Increased the old-age pension, doubled public housing funds and the number of childcare places.
  • Established the Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation.
  • Campaigned against apartheid in South Africa.

Mr Hawke was the longest serving Labor prime minister and introduced historical reforms into parliament during his time as the nation’s leader.

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she was ‘terribly sad to miss his memorial today.’

‘He inspired the Labor Party to govern well. He inspired the nation to embrace a better future. He inspired me as Prime Minister as I sought to live up to his example. He continues to inspire me.’

Former Labor leader Bill Shorten described Mr Hawke as a personal, party and national hero. 

‘He was my inspiration, then he became my friend,’ Mr Shorten said outside the Sydney Opera House where Mr Hawke launched campaigns in the 1980s.

People from across the political divide also paid tribute.

‘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,’ Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she was 'terribly sad to miss his memorial today'

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she was ‘terribly sad to miss his memorial today’

Mr Hawke was the longest serving Labor prime minister and introduced historical reforms into parliament during his time as the nation's leader

Mr Hawke was the longest serving Labor prime minister and introduced historical reforms into parliament during his time as the nation’s leader

Former Labor leader Bill Shorten described Mr Hawke as a personal, party and national hero

Former Labor leader Bill Shorten described Mr Hawke as a personal, party and national hero

More than 2,000 people crammed inside the the Sydney Opera House for the service, while thousands of others were forced to watch the televised broadcast on the steps outside

More than 2,000 people crammed inside the the Sydney Opera House for the service, while thousands of others were forced to watch the televised broadcast on the steps outside

Mr Hawke made the Guinness Book of Records for downing a yard glass while a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. 

But he gave up the drink in politics and boasted he ‘didn’t touch a drop’ while in parliament. 

The former ACTU leader rose through union and Labor ranks and won the party four elections, with his late first wife Hazel by his side. 

But in 1991 his treasurer Paul Keating replaced him as leader, his marriage hit the rocks, and eventually he and Hazel divorced. 

He married his biographer Blanche d’Alpuget in 1995.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott attended the service

Radio personality Alan Jones attended the service

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott (left) and radio personality Alan Jones (right) were also invited to the service

'He was my inspiration, then he became my friend,' Mr Shorten said outside the Sydney Opera House where Mr Hawke launched campaigns in the 1980s

‘He was my inspiration, then he became my friend,’ Mr Shorten said outside the Sydney Opera House where Mr Hawke launched campaigns in the 1980s

Mr Hawke was farewelled at a private family funeral but the public remembrance will see more tributes from his loved ones and major political figures.

Former South Australian premier and Labor national president Mike Rann celebrated Mr Hawke and his lifetime of achievements in a letter last week.

‘If there is a heaven I’d like to think that they’ve now got a larrikin up there, still carousing, chatting up the angels, or puffing on a giant cigar, a beer in hand while reading the form guide… still campaigning, still winning and still getting things done,’ Mr Rann wrote.

Former prime minister Bob Hawke will be honoured at a state memorial service at the Sydney Opera House on June 14. Mr Hawke, who has been praised as one of Australia's greatest leaders, died peacefully at home on May 16, aged 89

Former prime minister Bob Hawke will be honoured at a state memorial service at the Sydney Opera House on June 14. Mr Hawke, who has been praised as one of Australia’s greatest leaders, died peacefully at home on May 16, aged 89

‘The country is poorer for Bob’s passing’: Tributes pour in for Mr Hawke

‘Today we lost Bob Hawke, a great Australian – many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era … Bob was dearly loved by his family, and so many friends and colleagues. We will miss him.’ – Bob Hawke’s wife, Blanche d’Alpuget

‘The labour movement salutes our greatest son. Australians everywhere remember and honour a man who gave so much to the country and people he cared for so deeply. May he rest in peace.’ – Labor leader Bill Shorten

‘The country is much the poorer for Bob Hawke’s passing.’ – Former Labor prime minister Paul Keating

‘Bob Hawke is a giant of Australian politics … together with Therese and the entire nation, I mourn his passing.’ Former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd

‘A great man who made this country confident. A great man who never lost his humility.’ – Actor Russell Crowe

‘Vale Bob Hawke, one of our best prime ministers and Goldstein resident. Condolences to his family, who will mourn the loss of a great Australian.’ – Liberal Goldstein MP Tim Wilson

‘So very sad to hear my mate and former constituent, and my parents’ neighbour, Bob Hawke has passed away. He was a legend in so many ways. Our love to Blanche and the family. Australia has lost a bloody good guy today.’ – Australia’s ambassador to the U.S. Joe Hockey

‘Without question, Bob was the greatest peacetime leader Australia ever had. And up until his very last days he remained an inspiration and a friend…As a teenager Bob inspired me, as a PM he guided me.’ – Former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard  

‘The entire union movement grieves for the passing of Bob Hawke. Medicare. Superannuation. Modern Australia. Union movement hero.’ – ACTU secretary Sally McManus

‘Farewell Bob Hawke a great Australian, Labor leader and reforming Prime Minister. Australia is a better place because of him. Lucy and I send our love and condolences to Blanche and all of his family.’ – Former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull 

‘All Australians should mourn someone who changed our country for the better because he was always prepared to argue his case, even if it meant first persuading key people on his own side.’ – Former Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott 

‘More than any other, Bob Hawke was the people’s prime minister. Australians saw themselves in him and he saw himself in us.’ – Victorian Premier, Labor’s Daniel Andrews

‘Vale Bob Hawke. A giant among PMs. He had the courage to save the Franklin River when all looked lost. He got World Heritage listing of the Daintree Wet Tropics. He introduced Medicare. Legend. You’ll be missed Silver Bodgie.’ – Greens leader Richard Di Natale

‘His efforts to bridge the gap between black and white Australia were always sincere and continued after the end of his prime ministership.’ – Yothu Yindi Foundation chair Galarrwuy Yunupingu. 

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