Cartooning 'giant' Bill Leak remembered

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In a handout image supplied Friday, 10 March 2017, The Australian newspaper's editorial cartoonist Bill Leak in a photograph dated Jun. 9, 2017. It was confirmed by The Australian Newspaper that the 9-time Walkley winner had died this morning. (AAP Image/NEWS CORP, THE AUSTRALIAN)

Bill Leak, the controversial cartoonist who declared political correctness a poison, has been remembered as a master satirist by political and media figures.

Leak, 61, died in Gosford Hospital on Friday morning following a suspected heart attack.

The Australian newspaper's editor-in-chief Paul Whittaker described the nine-time Walkley Award winner as "a giant in his field of cartooning and portraiture and a towering figure for more than two decades" at the paper.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who knew Leak for more than 30 years, praised the cartoonist for being a "good-humoured sceptic of anybody and anything in authority" throughout his "far too short life".

His 2016 cartoon about indigenous parental neglect led to a racism complaint to the Human Rights Commission, which prompted calls from conservative figures for section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act to be changed.

Spectator magazine editor Rowan Dean on Friday said his friend had been "hounded to his grave" for simply doing his job.

Leak launched his latest book on International Women's Day this week stating: "I guess the first thing I should do is apologise for not being a woman."

© AAP 2017