Blanche D’Apluget says Australia must now celebrate a “life triumphantly well lived”


“The golden bowl is broken,” she said in a statement, quoting a passage of scripture often interpreted as a metaphor for the inevitable yet extinguishing nature of death.

At Mr Hawke’s memorial service on Friday, Ms d’Alpuget gave others the spotlight for reminiscence, keeping her own remarks brief and succinct.

“Four weeks ago there was a national outpouring of grief when Australia learned Bob Hawke had died. That grief has continued until today,” Ms d’Alpuget said.

“Today, this memorial service marks the transition from the grief of loss to the celebration of a life triumphantly well lived.

“With today’s transformative service, we smile again, we glow with pride for the presence among us for almost 90 years of a great human being.

She also paid tribute to Hawke’s relationship with China and the Chinese people, and in Mandarin, directly thanked those who had travelled to Sydney for the service.

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“Bob had friends all around the world but in no country, besides Australia, did he have more friends than in China,” she said.

Death had intervened on Mr Hawke and Ms d’Alpuget’s love, which had been forged in infidelity decades earlier, while he was still married to his first wife Hazel.

Their marriage in 1995 brought into the sunlight a passionate on-and-off again affair, but it also ruptured the Hawke family, coming only months after his divorce from Hazel after 39 years of marriage.

Ms d’Apulget has spoken openly about the “horrible” glare trained on her as the “other woman”, but has also expressed sorrow for the impact on Hazel.

“My feelings about Hazel’s sadness didn’t change. I still always, really up until the end, felt that sorrow,”  she told ABC’s Leigh Sales last year. Hazel Hawke died in 2013 from complications associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Mr Hawke and Ms d’Alpuget’ met at a party in Jakarta when she was 26 and he was 40. But their affair began in earnest in 1976 after she interviewed Mr Hawke for her biography on industrial judge Sir Richard Kirby.

“The physical attraction between us felt like metal to magnet – the force of it felt as if something huge, invisible and undeniable was moving us together,” she told the Australian Women’s Weekly in 2008.

It culminated in a marriage proposal in 1978, with Mr Hawke vowing to leave Hazel.

But only a year later, he broke off the affair as the spectre of divorce threatened to derail his sense of destiny as he embarked on his political career. They rekindled their romance in 1988.

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With the passage of time, the icy relationship between Mr Hawke’s children, Sue, Stephen and Rosslyn, and Ms d’Apulget thawed.

In a testament to graciousness, Sue Pieters-Hawke said the family had “moved on” and paid tribute to Ms d’Apulget’s “devotion” to Mr Hawke in an interview on the morning after his death.

“People remember mum with such fondness, and that warms my heart. But, you know what, we’d all moved on. All of us,” Mrs Pieters-Hawke said.

“I want to point out and acknowledge the devotion, love and care that Blanche has showed my dad, especially in this last period of him being unwell.”

Lisa Visentin is a state political reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.

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