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'He Loved Hazel And He Was Perpetually Unfaithful': Blanche d'Alpuget On Her Marriage To Bob Hawke

Six months ago Australia mourned the loss of the people's prime minister. Bob Hawke was loved by many, but his time in office and in the years following was not without controversy.

From his heavy drinking to his womanising ways, Hawke's personal life has always been under scrutiny.

But perhaps one of the biggest controversies of all was Hawke's longtime affair and subsequent marriage to his wife Blanche d'Alpuget with whom the former Prime Minister shared the last 25 years of his life.

d'Alpuget and Hawke faced fierce public criticism when they first came out together publicly after Hawke ended his first marriage with wife Hazel shortly after being ousted from office.

Blanche d'Alpuget. Image: The Sunday Project

d'Alpuget, who is still coming to terms with the loss of Hawke -- who she has always described as her best friend -- said the early days were horrible for the pair but she never felt she was doing anything bad.

"Bob was not a faithful husband," d'Alpuget told The Sunday Project's Lisa Wilkinson.

He was perpetually unfaithful. He loved Hazel and he was perpetually unfaithful.

d'Alpuget had a rocky relationship with Hawke's children for some time and says his career impacted them "very negatively" but believes Hazel had a wonderful time as the wife of the Prime Minister.

"He wasn’t drinking, she had all of the liberty and the restrictions of being the Prime Minister’s wife but all the good things she was able to do, socially, for society and herself," d'Alpuget said.

In her candid sit-down, d'Alpuget said Hawke had in many ways also "lost touch" with living a normal life.

Bob Hawke and Blanche d'Alpuget at the launch of the Australian Labor Party campaign in Brisbane on August 16, 2010. Image: Getty

Speaking about the couple's paid features in 60 Minutes and Woman's Day in the early days of their public relationship, d'Alpuget said Hawke wanted to do them because he was "very broke".

"He'd never been interested in money," she explained.

"I remember going to a shop with him and he said 'what's that' and it was 50 cent piece."

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In the coming days, Blanche d'Alpuget will farewell her husband of over 20 years at a private funeral with his children. 

But despite the public controversies, Australia fell in love with the former Labor leader and d'Alpuget believes it's because the public intuitively recognises genuine leaders when they see them.

"He was a genuine leader, he'd also done an enormous amount for the country," d'Alpuget told Wilkinson.

"All successful politicians are attractive human beings. Whatever their politics and however much you may loathe their politics, there is something attractive about them and if there isn’t people won’t vote for them."

Image: Getty

She said Hawke also adored the popularity.

"People were all over him, wanting to touch him, wanting to touch his hair, his arms," she said.

"He loved the affection of the people and he gave it right back, he seriously loved people."

Asked what she believed Hawke's greatest achievements were as Prime Minister, d'Alpuget said he modernised the Australian economy, brought in medicare and did "an enormous amount for the environment", including preventing Antarctic mining and saving the Daintree Rainforest.

She said Hawke also treasured his relationship with former South African president Nelson Mandela and had a deep admiration for him, even playing a role in Mandela's release from prison.

"The first country Mandela visited after going to various African countries was Australia and he said to Bob, 'Bob I'm here today thanks to you.'".

bob hawke
d'Alpuget is getting used to life without Bob Hawke. Image: Getty.

Now, d'Alpuget is getting used to life without him and admits she has been a "wreck" over the last six months but was inspired by the outpouring of gratitude for Hawke by the Australian people.

"People would come into supermarkets and I’d be trying to buy cauliflower and someone would come up and go, 'I just wanted to say', and I’d cry on the cauliflower," she said.

Asked how she thought Hawke would like to be remembered, d'Alpuget said: "as a man who loved his country and did his best to make it better."

In June, thousands packed onto the steps of the Sydney Opera House to farewell the former Prime Minister at a state memorial service.

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"I think he would have been delighted because it was such a celebration and it was so well done," d'Alpuget said.

"It was very uplifting for really the whole country," she added.

"There were plenty of laughs, we're talking about Bob, always plenty of laughs with Bob."

Featured Image: The Sunday Project

Contact the author: vgerova@networkten.com.au