Bob Hawke last year. Picture: AAP
Bob Hawke last year. Picture: AAP

Sales chokes back tears over Hawke

Australia is grieving over the death of former prime minister Bob Hawke at the age of 89.

Mr Hawke's wife Blanche d'Alpuget announced the tragic news in a statement this evening, saying he died "peacefully at home".

It came while 7.30 was airing its prerecorded election interviews with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Host Leigh Sales briefly interrupted those interviews to inform viewers of Mr Hawke's death, and appeared to be fighting back tears as she listed his achievements.

"It's my very sad duty to break the news this evening that the former Australian PM, Bob Hawke, has died aged 89. His wife issued a statement a short time ago," Sales said.

"Mr Hawke was Australia's 23rd prime minister. It's very difficult to overstate what a giant he is of the Labor Party and of the Labor movement.

"Along with his treasurer, Paul Keating, they introduced an enormous series of economic reforms which paved the way for the modern Australia in which we all live today.

"Mr Hawke, with the assistance of his Labor team, began Medicare in 1984. He ushered in a series of improvements in productivity in the Australian workplace, thanks to a series of accords between businesses and unions. He floated the Australian dollar. He dismantled tariffs. They're just a few of Bob Hawke's achievements.

"Shortly we will play you an obituary of Bob Hawke, but as Bob Hawke knows more than anybody, politics has to go on. And we are in the middle of an election campaign, so firstly we will bring you our interview with Bill Shorten as planned, in the interests of fairness and balance."