Labor's staunch Catholic politician Lionel Bowen dies

Screenshot from The Australian


Labor politician and former deputy prime minister Lionel Bowen died yesterday, while family members recited the rosary at his bedside, reports The Australian. He was 89.

Bowen was from right-wing NSW Labor Catholic stock. His daughter Ann said: "He was very well respected and liked by political friend and foe".

He rose from poor family circumstances in Sydney to become deputy opposition leader to Bill Hayden and deputy prime minister to Bob Hawke.

But high office seemed to leave him unchanged: he continued living in the same modest house in Kensington, in Sydney's eastern suburbs, that he had first rented, then bought, and in which he and wife Claire raised eight children.

The deputy prime minister was spotted once patiently waiting in a long queue at a Sydney bank in pre-ATM days, largely unrecognised.

Not that Bowen was without ambition to reach the top. He ran for the leadership twice - first against Whitlam after Labor's landslide loss in 1975 and then against Hayden after Whitlam resigned following the 1977 election. On the second occasion he came close, losing 36-28.

His appeal to colleagues and voters was as a traditional, down-to-earth Labor person.

Julia Gillard yesterday described Bowen as a legend of Australian politics who had served with distinction for 42 years across three levels of government. "Lionel Bowen was a good Labor man who was passionate for the cause of social justice, and who was renowned for his integrity, honesty and fairness," she said.


Legend of Labor Lionel Bowen never lost the touch (The Australian)


Screenshot from The Australian

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