Cartoonist Bill Leak has died of a suspected heart attack.
Leak, 61, died on Friday morning in Gosford Hospital, The Australian reported.
"We will miss him dreadfully and our hearts go out to his wife Goong, his stepdaughter Tasha and his sons Johannes and Jasper," The Australian's Editor-in-Chief Paul Whittaker said.
"(He was) a giant in his field of cartooning and portraiture and a towering figure for more than two decades."
— The Australian (@australian) March 10, 2017
Statement by Michael Miller, News Corp Australia Exec Chairman, on Bill Leak. pic.twitter.com/QzvsywMBur— Nicholas Gray (@NicholasGray) March 10, 2017
Leak was known for his highly controversial cartoons -- including one that depicted an aboriginal father, beer can in hand, asking a policeman what his own son's name was.
He was also a vocal opponent of section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act and was last year accused of being racist over the cartoon.
RIP Bill Leak: a true warrior for freedom of speech. pic.twitter.com/4BknNjCxDj— George Christensen (@GChristensenMP) March 10, 2017
"I think 18C is an abomination. Look, I can only assume that a lot of people genuinely believe that freedom of speech means the legal right to hurl abuse. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth," he told the ABC in October last year.
"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."
Very sad news about Bill Leak. Love him or hate him, he was exactly what cartoonists should be - fearless. A huge loss to public debate.— Pia Akerman (@pia_akerman) March 10, 2017
Sad news about Bill Leak Australian cartoonist passing away at 61. Big loss to not only his family but Media Landscape— Ken Dunning (@viewfrmthestand) March 10, 2017
No. No. No. How do we ever explain how much we loved him? He had the courage of a lion. https://t.co/aL17ySnQrV— Caroline Overington (@overingtonc) March 10, 2017
The Australian journalism community on Friday paid tribute, to Leak's career, during which he won nine Walkley Awards, the industry's most prestigious honour.
Leak had just recently released his book, Trigger Warning: Deplorable Cartoons By Bill Leak.Suggest a correction