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Former Australian leader dies on eve of general election

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 02:25s - Published < > Embed
Former Australian leader dies on eve of general election

Former Australian leader dies on eve of general election

Australian politicians scrambled to shore up undecided voters on Friday, the last day of an election campaign that's ended in mourning for one of the country's political giants, Bob Hawke.

Ed Giles reports.

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Former Australian leader dies on eve of general election

Australian politicians scrambled to shore up undecided voters on Friday (May 18).

It's the last day of an election campaign that's ended in mourning for one of the country's political giants.

Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke a charismatic leader of the left wing passed away on Thursday aged 89.

Hawke's considered one of Australia's most transformative leaders.

But he's also famous for what Aussies call his 'larrikin' nature.

Moments like this, after Australia won the Americas Cup yacht race in 1983.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA, BOB HAWKE, SAYING: "Í tell you what, any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum." Hawke's death came just two days before the big vote.

Polls show his center-left Labor party could once again form government.

Just this week he waded into the fray by endorsing his potential successor - Bill Shorten.

Labor's victory is no certainty against the incumbent conservatives, led by Scott Morrison.

But Reuters Tom Westbrook in Sydney says the week's dramatic developments may have changed the nature of the campaign.

(Soundbite) (English) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT TOM WESTBROOK, SAYING: "It has certainly thrown the campaign into chaos, on the day before the election it has upended the political scene.

And I think it really gets voters to cast their mind back to his era, which was a more sort of optimistic time in Australian politics where big ideas and big thinking dominated the day.

Bob Hawke was a giant in Australia - a Giant of Australian politics and he changed the country, his achievement was to open the economy.

He lowered tariffs, he floated the dollar, he deregulated a rule-bound economy and laid the framework for the 28 years of growth which has followed his time in power.

And he did it by consensus, by bringing both business and workers together to grow the country." Meanwhile Shorten and Morrison spent Friday on the campaign trail trying to secure their own political futures.

(Soundbite) (English) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT TOM WESTBROOK, SAYING: "Morrison, the prime minister, he's spent it in Queensland touring marginal seats that he needs to win, if he's to retain power.

Shorten's had his plans upended by the death of Bob Hawke so he's been in Sydney today asking voters to support his agenda - which is a reform platform." Australians will vote for their next government on Saturday (May 18).




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