Bob Hawke, one of Australia’s longest serving prime ministers, died on Thursday, just days ahead of a federal election, the opposition Labour party said.

Hawke, 89, served from 1983 to 1991 and counted floating the Australian dollar among his crowning achievements.

In a statement Labour leader said with his passing, the Labour movement salutes their greatest son and Australians everywhere remember and honour a man who gave so much to the country and people he cared for so deeply.

Robert James Lee “Bob” Hawke was born in 9 December 1929, in the South Australian village of Bordertown where his father was a Congregational Church minister.

At 57 Hawke, won his third term in office, having called the election eight months before his three-year term ended. He was rewarded with a resounding victory.

Hawke said then that he won due to the faith of Australians.

“I said that when we next went to the people that not only would we be returned to office, but I believe that we would be returned with an increased majority and, fundamentally, I expressed that view because of my faith in the Australian people.”

Hawke’s final engagement as prime minister was to unveil an aboriginal painting at Parliament House in Canberra. The painting, the Burunga Statement, was acquired in 1988 when Hawke proposed a pact with the aboriginal population.

The pact has never been sealed, a fact deplored by Hawke, who said the media had misjudged his absolute dedication to its aims.

Hawke became emotional and shed tears at the end of the speech when he called on whites and aborigines to show greater understanding.