Bob Hawke dead at 89: Tony Abbott slammed over tribute
Tony Abbott’s tribute to former prime minister Bob Hawke has been slammed by a mourning public, who have accused the Liberal MP of being “disrespectful” towards the Labor luminary.
But it was Mr Abbott’s statement that raised eyebrows, with the former PM’s description of Mr Hawke as having “a Labor heart, but a Liberal head” angering many Australians.
“Bob Hawke was a great prime minister. In my judgment, he was Labor’s greatest prime minister,” said Mr Abbott.
“But his key achievements — financial deregulation, tariffs cuts, and the beginnings of privatisation — went against the Labor grain, as Labor’s more recent policy direction shows.
“You might almost say he had a Labor heart, but a Liberal head.
“Certainly, the Coalition supported nearly all of his big reforms, helping to make his tenure a time of economic revitalisation.
“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.”
Mr Abbott’s statement, which contrasted with those put out by other former prime ministers, was quickly criticised on Twitter.
Read the room mate.
— David Campbell (@DavidCampbell73) May 16, 2019
What an awful statement. Shame on you.
— Nova Peris OAM OLY MAICD (@NovaPeris) May 16, 2019
— Tom Gleeson (@nonstoptom) May 16, 2019
Wow. The difference in statements between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott regarding Bob Hawke’s passing really says it all. @TonyAbbottMHR, how do you get a memorial statement wrong??
— Andrew (@AndrewPatrick_) May 16, 2019
This is profoundly disrespectful.
— Dr Sarah Squire (@SquireSarah) May 16, 2019
Far out. This is so, so wrong.
— s t e p h a n i e (@stephaniem126) May 16, 2019
Mr Abbott’s tribute has so far attracted more than 3000 overwhelmingly negative replies, but it didn’t stop him from sharing another tweet about Mr Hawke an hour later.
Catching up with Bob Hawke in 2015.
He had the capacity to reach out to everyone across party lines. He was a great Australian. Margie and I extend our deepest sympathies to Blanche and his family. pic.twitter.com/dEjQ6IL6aa
— Tony Abbott (@TonyAbbottMHR) May 16, 2019
Mr Hawke’s death was confirmed in a statement from his wife Blanche d’Alpuget, who said he died peacefully at home.
“Today we lost Bob Hawke, a great Australian — many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era,” the statement read. “He died peacefully at home at the age of 89 years.
“I and Bob’s children, Sue, Stephen, Rosslyn and stepson, Louis, and his grandchildren, will hold a private funeral.
“A memorial service will be held in Sydney in coming weeks.
“Bob Hawke and Paul Keating and their governments modernised the Australian economy, paving the way for an unprecedented period of recession-free economic growth and job creation.”
Originally published as Abbott slammed over Hawke tribute