NO matter when it came, the death of Bob Hawke was always going to be a matter of national significance.
But in dying just two days out from Saturday's federal election, Mr Hawke has all but relegated campaigning to a second-level event, one that must hit the brakes for Australia to remember one of the giants of post-war politics, with an outpouring of emotion from across the nation.
At a time when an already negative campaign could have been expected to expel a final explosion of vitriol, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and opposition leader Bill Shorten have instead put considerable distance between themselves.
Both men had intended to wind up their campaigns in Queensland, and while Mr Morrison was in the northern electorates of Leichhardt and Herbert on Friday, Mr Shorten opted for Sydney, where he paid tribute to Mr Hawke on the steps of the opera house.
Throughout the five-week campaign, the Coalition's main message has been a negative one, that Labor would be a high-taxing, high-spending government, one unable to manage the nation economically.
Suddenly, however, the government has had to contend with an unexpected focus on a Labor government that did know how to manage the economy, and did so - with only a few stumbles - while ushering in a swathe of reforms that turned Australia from being an inward-looking, tariff-bound, closed-shop economy into the deregulated and export-oriented nation that we are today.
As Mr Morrison himself acknowledged about Mr Hawke on Thursday night: "He made Australia stronger through his contribution to public life. He had a great intellect. He had enormous passion and he had courage."
These are hardly the words an embattled political leader would ordinarily use about one of his opponent's inspirational figureheads less than two days before an election.
In this light, the extraordinary timing of Mr Hawke's passing has given Mr Shorten a weapon he would otherwise never have.
The government knows that when the polls open, the main topic of conversation for many people will not be the election, but Mr Hawke, and whether his death will have the impact that Labor will be quietly wanting it to.
The Coalition, on the other hand, will be hoping, as Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Friday morning, that voters can distinguish between the legacy of Mr Hawke and the issues at stake in this election.
Which ever party wins office, they will be governing a country facing considerable domestic uncertainty, with low wages growth, a flat economy and tumbling housing prices, and a range of risks, including US-China trade tensions and Brexit, internationally.
Add the uncertainties of climate change to this mixture, and it's clear that Australia needs strong leadership, more than ever.