Former prime minister Bob Hawke did not vote in the federal election before his death last week at the age of 89, his wife Blanche d’Alpuget has revealed.
- His wife Blanche d’Alpuget says he did not get a chance to vote because he wanted to do so in person
- She said his last year was “one of the best times of our lives”
- She said he saw his life as contributing to society and thought he had no further contribution to make
“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,” Ms d’Alpuget tells 7.30 in her first interview since Mr Hawke’s death.
Given the result of the election, she said it was “probably a good thing that he died when he did”.
Asked if Mr Hawke knew how much the public loved him, Ms d’Alpuget said: “I think he probably did, but he never spoke about it.
“I think he did.”
Looking back on Bob Hawke:
She said Mr Hawke was “more than prepared” for death.
“In fact two days before he died, we had a friend over here, a very old friend, and he said, ‘Well, it’s not long now. It’s very soon.’
“He said to me, ‘I can’t make any further contribution. I’ve got no contribution to make now.’ Which was one of the reasons he wanted to die because he thought of his life as contributing to society.”
‘The love of old age’
Ms d’Alpuget said the last year of Mr Hawke’s life was difficult, but also “one of the best times of our lives”.
“Because we were so close and intimate during that time, while I was his main carer. And we often said to each other, we’ve been blessed to have this period together.
“We didn’t have the joy of young love. He had that with Hazel. We had the joy of mature love and then the love of old age.
“People don’t realise — now I really am not going to cry — how wonderful it can be to look after somebody you love when they’re old and dying.
“There’s a great deal of intimacy. There, there are no secrets, there are no pretences. You’re getting the true human being on both sides.”
Reconciling with Paul Keating
Ms d’Alpuget said Mr Hawke’s rivalry with Paul Keating, the man who replaced him as prime minister, had “completely vanished” in recent years.
“Paul really wanted to come over and see him, it was lovely. And it was great. They sat and they yarned about old times. Paul came a few times.
“They always took each other’s phone calls, where there were party issues to discuss. So it wasn’t as the press presented this. It wasn’t at all like that.”
She said the achievements he was most proud of included the ban on mining in Antarctica, helping to free Nelson Mandela and his “very large role” in the end of apartheid.
“He was very proud of the fact that he was patron of a small charity, which is called Engineering Aid, which encourages Indigenous kids to become engineers, or at least to go on with their education.
“And that was a source of great joy and pride to him, because a number of them who would never have gone to university or continued their education, did so. And a number became engineers.”
Watch Leigh Sales interview Blanche d’Alpuget tonight on 7.30.