National

Hawke was an inspiration, friend: Shorten

By AAP Newswire

Bob Hawke was Bill Shorten's inspiration before the Labor elder became a friend.

Now, Mr Shorten's within touching distance of joining him in an exclusive Labor club.

Mr Hawke is being remembered as one of Australia's great prime ministers after his peaceful death on Thursday, aged 89.

Mr Shorten is aiming to become just the fourth Labor leader to win government from opposition since World War II.

Mr Hawke was the second.

"He was my inspiration, then he became my friend," Mr Shorten said outside the Sydney Opera House where Mr Hawke launched campaigns in the 1980s.

"And now, the nation owns him and his legacy."

Polls show Labor is on track to record victory on Saturday but campaigning was toned down as the party pauses to remember a legend.

"I'm confident Labor will win tomorrow because we've got a positive plan for real change, to stop the chaos," he said.

The opposition leader visited Mr Hawke's wife Blanche d'Alpuget on Friday morning.

"Blanche said that nothing would make Bob happier than Labor forming a government tomorrow night," he said.

Mr Shorten laid flowers on a small memorial on the steps of the Opera House.

Within the arrangement stood a half-full schooner of beer, a sign reading "solidarity forever" and another which said "RIP Hawkey".

The Labor leader visited the giant of Australian politics last week, with Mr Hawke telling him he had two goals.

One he achieved, seeing his stepson's wedding.

"Sadly, he didn't win the fight to be there on election night to see Labor form a government," Mr Shorten said.

He paid tribute to Mr Hawke's political legacy including Medicare, modernising Australia's economy, environmental protection and bringing people together.

Later the opposition leader made a visit to the John Curtin Hotel across the road from Victorian Trades Hall.

Mr Hawke was renowned for his sessions at the pub when he was ACTU leader.

Labor premiers past and present - Steve Bracks and Daniel Andrews - joined Mr Shorten in a toast with cans of Hawke's Lager.

"If the walls could talk or the floors could talk, but he was always motivated by the best interests of Australian workers," Mr Shorten said.

Punters gave him a healthy reception, although one young man gave him an encouraging warning.

"Don't cock it up," he said.

His friend doubled back to apologise to the opposition leader.

Despite his confidence Mr Shorten wasn't ready to emphatically declare the result.

"We'll wait 'till tomorrow night. There's still some work to do, still some conversations to be had."