Cartoonist Bill Leak has died aged 61

AUSTRALIAN cartoonist Bill Leak has died.

The award-winning artist's work was a fixture in Australian media for more than 30 years.

Mr Leak's drawings were first published in The Bulletin in 1983. He was later published in The Sydney Morning Herald before taking up the position for which he was best known, as editorial cartoonist for The Australian newspaper.

The veteran cartoonist's work has long been a source of controversy in Australian media circles.

His satirical depictions have made headlines and stirred debate around the world.

Bill Leak's provocative cartoon
Bill Leak's provocative cartoon

A particularly controversial cartoon published last year depicting a drunk aboriginal man unable to remember his son's name saw Leak and The Australian investigated for breaching section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Earlier, Leak had come under fire over a cartoon published in 2015 showing Indian people trying to eat solar panels delivered by the United Nations.

In 2007 he was subject to a complaint from the Belgian creators of the character Tintin, whose image Leak used to portray then-opposition leader Kevin Rudd.

Leak was a fierce defender of free speech, and was constantly defending his controversial cartoons.

In a recent ABC interview he said: "Freedom of speech is what created our civil and free society. It is all about the exchange of ideas, about letting people express their views in the marketplace of ideas."

He had only this week launched his latest book, Trigger Warning, a collection of Leak's most popular cartoons published in The Australian last year.

Mr Leak used the launch party to attack political correctness, calling it "a poison that attacks the sense of humour" that "infects an awful lot of precious little snowflakes," The Australian reported.

Throughout his career, Leak won nine Walkley awards between 1987 and 2002, among other prestigious awards.

He has also been named as a finalist in the famed Archibald Prize a dozen times, and twice won the exhibition's Packing Room prize.

The artist's portraits of Bob Hawke and Bill Hayden hang in Parliament House in Canberra, and his portraits of Sir Donald Bradman, Dick Woolcott and Robert Hughes are in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, his website states.

Topics:  bill leak editors picks

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