NELSON Mandela was a towering figure of the 20th century who will be remembered as more than a political leader.
Australian leaders past and present yesterday said the world had lost a great man.
Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser saw Mr Mandela as a pragmatist whose sense of justice healed a country torn apart by apartheid.
“He wasn’t one of the great men of the last century,” Mr Fraser said.
“He was by far the best person I have ever met.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Mr Mandela said was an inspiration who spent much of his
95 years standing against the injustice of apartheid.
“When that fight was won, he inspired us again by his capacity to forgive and reconcile his country,” Mr Abbott said. “He was a moral leader.”
Former prime minister Bob Hawke, who attended Mr Mandela’s inauguration as president in 1994, said Mr Mandela embodied the ideal of the brotherhood of man.
For Mr Hawke’s successor Paul Keating, Mr Mandela was a “font of kindness” in a harsh and racially divided country.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Mandela was one of the great figures of modern times.
Julia Gillard tweeted that, as people grieve for Mr Mandela, “we should also celebrate his tremendous victory over prejudice and hate”.