politics

"He loved Hazel and he was perpetually unfaithful." Blanche d'Alpuget on falling in love with Bob Hawke.

When Bob Hawke, Australia’s 23rd Prime Minister, died in May this year, his wife Blanche d’Alpuget was the one who broke the news to the nation.

“Today we lost Bob Hawke, a great Australian – many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era,” she wrote in a statement at the time.

Now, six months on from Bob’s death, Blanche has opened up about how she’s been trying to come to terms with the loss of her husband of nearly 25 years.

Speaking to The Project’s Lisa Wilkinson, d’Alpuget said that she has been a “wreck” up until recently. 

“In the last week, I think I’ve come good. Up until then, I was pretty much a wreck. People come up in supermarkets and I’d be trying to buy cauliflower and someone would come up and go ‘I just wanted to say’ and I’d cry on the cauliflower,” she said.

After Bob’s death, Blanche received thousands of letters and messages of  “enormous affection and admiration.”

“He inspired me to do this. He inspired me to do that. It was fabulous to hear the outpouring of gratitude to him really. He seriously loved people,” said Blanche. 

Bob and Blanche met at a friend’s party in Jakarta back in 1970. 

Their attraction was “instantaneous” despite being married to different people at the time.

“I had no idea who he was. I thought his name was Robin. He sat down and we talked a lot. And I thought, ‘You’re a good guy’,” Blanche said.

Six years later, Blanche interviewed Bob for a biography on arbitrator Sir Richard Kirby. And that began the pair’s infamous love affair.

“It was the ’70s, and I was a feminist, I was in the women’s movement. We didn’t believe in monogamy, we believed in liberty, equality and sorority and supporting other women, and affairs were par for the course. They were part of that life,” she said.

On The Project, Wilkinson asked if Bob had a problem with how his relationship with Blanche began.

“Are you kidding?” she laughed.

“He was perpetually unfaithful. He loved Hazel and he was perpetually unfaithful,” she said.

Speaking previously to Mia Freedman on Mamamia’s No Filter podcast, Blanche explained, “…one tried to be discreet and not hurt anybody”.

While they were “madly in love”, Bob and Blanche just remained lovers for more than two decades as Bob was still married to his first wife, Hazel Hawke (nee Masterson).

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Listen to Mia Freedman’s full interview with Blanche d’Alpuget on the No Filter podcast. Post continues after podcast. 

On The Project, Blanche admitted “hwasn’t a faithful husband. I didn’t feel I was doing anything bad.” 

During the interview, Blanche shared a candid memory of Bob watching women on boats during Australia Day celebrations with the Prince of Wales. 

“Bob and Charles are on deck and of course millions of small boats were on the harbour and a lot of naughty Sydney girls taking the tops of their bikinis off,” she said.

“Charles had a pair of binoculars saying ‘Prime Minister, there are a pair of beauties.'”

“They’re blokes, you know,” she said. “And Diana was sitting downstairs.”

bob hawke blanche affair
Bob Hawke and Blanche d'Alpuget. Image: Getty.

When the pair married in 1995, their relationship caused tension amongst family members, particularly Bob's and Hazel's three children.

However, as time went on, Bob's family eventually embraced their relationship.

"The tension between me and the kids, we got over them sooner than the press has led the public to believe really."

But conflict still remains with Bob's daughter Roslyn, who is reportedly preparing to launch legal action over Bob's will.

"Look, I think it's just grief on her part. I think she's grieving. I really asked her not to. The lawyers are dealing with all of it. I'm not even told very much about it, what's going on. I have got not much idea of where it's at."

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Blanche said at times Bob's career negatively impacted his children.

"Look, he was a rock star from the age of 29. As we see with the children of rock stars, it's terribly difficult. So not being able to be their own people."

Despite his family issues, Bob was widely admired by the Australian public. 

"People recognise genuine leaders intuitively. And he was a genuine leader. He had also done an enormous amount for the country.

"All successful politicians are attractive human beings. Whatever their politics and however much you may loathe their politics, there is something attractive about them and if there isn't, people won't vote for them." 

Blanche said Bob would have been pleased with the public tribute he received after his death.

"I think he would have been delighted. It was such a celebration and it was so well done. It was very uplifting for really the whole country." 


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