SYDNEY, Australia  - Lionel Bowen, the former deputy prime minister under the Australian Labor govt of Bob Hawke, died in Sydney on Sunday aged 89. Bowen was deputy leader from 1983 to 1990 and also served in the Gough Whitlam govt during a distinguished 21-year parliamentary career. Known for his integrity, honesty and fairness, he retired from politics ahead of the March 1990 election and was succeeded by Paul Keating. Hawke said he was the ideal deputy, whose loyalty was absolute. "An affable, active, shrewd man, with a delightful, self-effacing humour and an uncanny capacity for accurately judging character," Hawke wrote in his memoir.

Current Prime Minister Julia Gillard paid tribute to a man she described as "a legend of Australian politics". "His loyalty, steadfastness and wise counsel were among the key ingredients for the success and stability of the Hawke era," she said. "The Australian community has lost an outstanding leader, and the Labor Party has lost one of its finest sons."

Bowen is survived by his wife Claire. The cause of death was not given.