Just 48 hours before the 2019 federal election, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke passed away peacefully surrounded by his friends and family. He was 89.
Serving as Australia’s leader from 1983-1991, Hawke was responsible for a number of major reforms including the complete introduction of Medicare and opening up Australia’s economy to the world. Crucially, Hawke also carried out a number of legislative changes which transformed the rights of women in Australia.
The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 was enforced to protect women from maternity leave discrimination, and workplace sexual harassment. He and his cabinet also implemented specific protection policies for Indigenous women, migrant women and women with disability.
Hawke was a leader beloved by Australians not because of his politics and pandering but because of his conviction.
His wife of 24 years and Hawke’s great love, Blanche d’Alpuget sat down with ABC reporter Leigh Sales last year for an interview about the life she shared with Australia’s larrikin leader.
— abc730 (@abc730) May 16, 2019
“A day wouldn’t go past where we don’t say to each other at least once a day “I love you” and we always are kissing each other and embarrassing my son, kissing during dinner,” d’Alpuget responded when asked whether their relationship still took work.
When probed about whether this dynamic had changed in all the years they’d been together, d’Alpuget responded: “It’s mellowed, and it has become sweeter. So it really is like a late picked wine.”
At the end of the interview, Sales asks d’Alpuget about her feelings on death and how she’d cope when Hawke (who’d been in poor health) was no longer around.
Through tears d’Alpuget responds: “With difficulty, Leigh, with difficulty. Oh, dear,”
Sales: “Oh sorry, I’m sorry.”
d’Alpuget: “It’s alright. He’s my best friend.”
Tributes have flown in for Bob Hawke overnight, with Australians paying tribute to a formidable leader and friend. Vale.
— ABC Politics (@politicsabc) May 16, 2019
Even though I never had the chance to serve with him, I always liked and admired Bob Hawke for his progressive record and great sense of humor. My thoughts are with his family and the people of Australia.
— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) May 16, 2019
Bob Hawke was the greatest peacetime leader Australia has ever had.
As a teenager Bob inspired me, as a PM he guided me.
I will miss him. I wish so very much that Bob had been able to see one more election day.
My condolences to Blanche, his children and grandchildren. pic.twitter.com/4wPHdIeBUZ
— Julia Gillard (@JuliaGillard) May 16, 2019
To think of Bob Hawke is to smile. He always lifted spirits. Bob inspired awe – he changed Australia, modernised our economy; created Medicare, superannuation; protected our environment. Bob always stood up for working people, always. He is a hero & legend. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/LQxt0IU6cx
— Kristina Keneally (@KKeneally) May 16, 2019
Bob Hawke was a great Australian who led and served our country with passion, courage, and an intellectual horsepower that made our country stronger.
He was true to his beliefs in the Labor tradition and defined the politics of his generation and beyond.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) May 16, 2019