Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke visited Singleton in September 2008

FORMER Prime Minister Bob Hawke has died peacefully at his home at the age of 89.

In a statement, Mr Hawke's wife Blanche d'Alpuget said we had lost "a great Australian - many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era."

Former Australian Prime Ministyer Bob Hawke at the Singleton Rugby Club September 5, 2008 accepted the challenge from Martin Hankin to put his Oxford University record on the line.

Former Australian Prime Ministyer Bob Hawke at the Singleton Rugby Club September 5, 2008 accepted the challenge from Martin Hankin to put his Oxford University record on the line.

Mr Hawke led the Labor Party to a landslide victory in 1983 and became Prime Minister. He went on to claim election victories in '84, '87 and 1990.

"Bob Hawke and Paul Keating and their governments modernised the Australian economy, paving the way for an unprecedented period of recession -free economic growth," Ms d'Alpuget's statement read.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten paid tribute to Mr Hawke, saying the labour movement "salutes our greatest son".

Bob Hawke during his visit to Singleton to speak at the Singleton Rugby Club's Lunch with a Legend with the late Frank Maguire and Mick Dunn.

Bob Hawke during his visit to Singleton to speak at the Singleton Rugby Club's Lunch with a Legend with the late Frank Maguire and Mick Dunn.

"The Labor Party gives thanks for the life of our longest-serving prime minister and Australians everywhere remember and honour a man who gave so much to the country and people he cared for so deeply," he said in a statement.

"The Australian people loved Bob Hawke because they knew Bob loved them, this was true to the very end.

"He was a leader of conviction - and a builder of consensus. But for Bob, consensus and co-operation never meant pursuing the lowest common denominator."

A memorial service will be held in Sydney in coming weeks.

Australian Associated Press