Tearful Blanche emerges after Bob Hawke’s death
FORMER Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke's wife Blanche d'Alpuget left her Northbridge home this morning to pick up newspapers at her gate which paid tribute to her late husband.
She broke down in tears as she greeted media and said "thank you" when offered condolences.
She was dressed down in a charcoal robe and multi-coloured scarf before returning inside. Ms d'Alpuget said the robe belonged to Hawke and she was wearing it because it made her "feel better".
It is the first time she has been seen publicly since her husband's death.
Mr Hawke died peacefully at home yesterday, aged 89, his death announced by Ms d'Alpuget in a statement.
"Today we lost Bob Hawke, a great Australian - many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era … Bob was dearly loved by his family, and so many friends and colleagues. We will miss him."
Mr Hawke was first married in 1956 to Hazel Masterson, who he met while he was at university in Perth, and the couple had four children together - Sue, Stephen, Rosslyn and Robert Jr, who died in childhood.
Mrs Hawke was the steadfast wife who stood by her husband as he led the Australian Council of Trade Unions in the 1970s, entered parliament and served as Prime Minister from 1983 to 1991. But the much-admired Labor leader had a long-held secret.
Six years on, with her marriage "going down the drain", Ms d'Alpuget interviewed Mr Hawke for a biography on arbitrator Sir Richard Kirby. "The click was different," she said - and at the time, "affairs were par for the course".
Full statement from Blanche d'Alpuget
"Today we lost Bob Hawke, a great Australian - many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era.
"He died peacefully at home at the age of 89 years.
"I and Bob's children, Sue, Stephen, Rosslyn and stepson, Louis, and his grandchildren, will hold a private funeral.
"A memorial service will be held in Sydney in coming weeks.
"Bob Hawke and Paul Keating and their governments modernised the Australian economy, paving the way for an unprecedented period of recession-free economic growth and job creation.
"Bob's consensus-style approach of bringing together the trade union movement and the business community boosted job opportunities while increasing the social wage through Medicare and extra financial support for low-income families.
"Together with his highly talented Cabinets, he foresaw the Asian Century and position Australia to take full advantage of it through a program of sweeping economic reforms.
"Among his proudest achievements were large increases in the proportion of children finishing high school, his role in ending apartheid in South Africa, and his successful international campaign to protect Antarctica from mining.
"He abhorred racism and bigotry. His father, the Reverend Clem Hawke, told Bob that if you believed in the Fatherhood of God then you must also believe in the Brotherhood of Man. "Bob would add today the Sisterhood of Women.
"Bob was dearly loved by his family, and so many friends and colleagues.
"We will miss him."