The widow of former prime minister Bob Hawke, Blanche d'Alpuget. Picture: Supplied
The widow of former prime minister Bob Hawke, Blanche d'Alpuget. Picture: Supplied

Blanche tells how Hawke and Keating rivalry ‘vanished’

BOB Hawke's widow Blanche d'Alpuget has told of how he was not afraid to die, and how Paul Keating reached out to the ailing political icon.

Blanche d'Alpuget, 75, said the two men had met over dinner and lunches over the past 12 months to reconcile their sometimes bitter post-parliamentary relationship.

It had fractured when Mr Hawke, 89, refused to relinquish the leadership and succeed the PM role to Mr Keating, 75.

Meeting at Mr Hawke's Northbridge, Sydney home several times over the past year - before a final cup of tea a fortnight ago - the pair would spend their final moments reminiscing about their time "changing the country".

 

Bob Hawke and Paul Keating at Parliament House in Canberra in 1991. Picture: News Corp
Bob Hawke and Paul Keating at Parliament House in Canberra in 1991. Picture: News Corp

 

"They always took each others phone calls on party matters," Ms d'Alpuget told the ABC's 7.30 program last night.

"They talked about old times and laughed a lot … and how they hoped the country would develop."

The "painful" loss of her husband, who famously left his first wife, Hazel for his mistress and biographer, had been eased by the national outpouring of grief and love for Mr Hawke, she said.

"It has been marvellous for the country to have its heart softened, I think, by the thought part of them was going away forever," she said.

Ms d'Alpuget said she had lost three kilograms while nursing her second husband as his health deteriorated; grief-stricken at the though of losing her "best friend".

 

Bob Hawke’s widow, Blanche d’Alpuget on ABC 7:30 where she discussed the incredible life of the former Prime Minister. Picture: 7.30 Report
Bob Hawke’s widow, Blanche d’Alpuget on ABC 7:30 where she discussed the incredible life of the former Prime Minister. Picture: 7.30 Report

 

"We didn't have the joy of young love, Hazel had that," she said.

"But we had the joy of a mature love, in old age.

"People don't realise how wonderful it can be to look after someone you love when they're old and dying."

She said she thought often of the impact her affair with Mr Hawke had on the mother of his children, who died after battling Alzheimer's disease in 2013.

Australia's longest-serving Labor PM had pursued her in 1978, while still married to Hazel.

"There's a French song, which I'm sure you know and is called La Vie En Rose and one verse is translated into English as 'take me in your arms again'," she said.

"And every time I sang it or hummed it, I thought of her. I used to think of Hazel and feel very sad for her. That's what she must have felt."

 

Bob Hawke and wife Blanche d'Alpuget last year. Picture: AAP
Bob Hawke and wife Blanche d'Alpuget last year. Picture: AAP

 

Mr Hawke didn't get to cast his vote in the election lost by Labor two days after his death, having been determined to make it to the ballot box.

"He decided he wasn't going to postal vote. He was going to go up in his wheelchair and vote, but he didn't get there," Mr Hawke's widow Blanche d'Alpuget has told ABC's 7:30.

But the former leader left the world believing he had contributed everything he could.

"Which was one of the reasons he wanted to die, because he thought of his life as contributing to society."