Local News

Leaders Pay Tribute To Bob Hawke - PM In North And Far North Qld


AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Scott Morrison will spend Federal Election eve embarking on a blitz of regional Queensland seats.

The Prime Minister will start his Friday on the campaign trail in Townsville, beginning with a round of television interviews and a coffee with locals.

Speaking to the ABC in Townsville he said that he would be raising a glass for late former Prime Minister Bob Hawke.

Mr Morrison described Mr Hawke as a "unifier...but his appeal was directly I think to the hearts and minds of each and every one Australian, and he had an ability to carry Australians with him because he understood them and he understood their aspirations".

Perhaps taking a little dig at Opposition Leader Bill Shorten he added that "he was the last Labor leader I think who really did understand those aspirations in that very special way, he had a very unique talent for that".

"He was a man of enormous intellectual capability, I was talking to John Howard about it last night [Thursday] and he was an intellectual powerhouse, that was true, but he was able to combine that with his deep appreciation of his character and love of life.

Mr Morrison then moved on to his election pitch, making it clear that his Coalition Government wouldn't be forcing Australians to pay higher taxes.

He pointed the finger squarely at Labor accusing it of wanting to tax small businesses, retirement savings, savings for their first home, housing taxes. Mr Morrison said to stop Labor's higher taxes for Liberal National on Saturday.

When asked what he had to say to voters who were annoyed that they couldn't vote for Malcolm Turnbull tomorrow he replied, after a pause, "it's a choice between Bill Shorten and myself for Prime Minister and that's the choice for Australia's future and it will a decision about who they want to lead this country for the next three years".

He pointed out that whoever wins the Federal Election will lead Australia for the next three years because of a rule change that means no more leadership switches like we've seen within the Coalition and Labor.

The Prime Minister is later expected to fly into Cairns for more local engagements.  

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also paid tribute to Bob Hawke, visiting the Sydney Opera House overnight.

He said 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" he posted on Twitter.

Mr Shorten visited Mr Hawke just last week.  During their time together he said "I tried to tell him what he meant to all of us".

But he admitted it was hard to find the right words to say.  He got the feeling that Bob knew what he was trying to say.

Mr Shorten said "he knew what he meant to Australia, he knew what he had achieved for the country. He knew he was loved, right to the end".  

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard also paid tribute to Bob, saying that he was the "greatest peacetime leader Australia has ever had".