Legal stoush brewing over Bob Hawke’s estate

Bob and Hazel Hawke on holiday with their children Stephen, Sue and Ros.

Bob and Hazel Hawke on holiday with their children Stephen, Sue and Ros. Photo: ABC

Bob Hawke’s daughter Rosslyn Dillon is preparing to take legal action against Blanche d’Alpuget over the former prime minister’s multimillion-dollar estate.

Ros, 58, who remains ‘‘fragile” after her father’s death according to friends, has conveyed her intention to challenge the will in a tense phone call with her stepmother after her father’s death in May.

It followed her discovery she will receive a payout of around $750,000 under a separate agreement to the multimillion-dollar estate that includes the proceeds of the $15 million sale of a Northbridge home.

It is Ms Dillon’s understanding there is no further provision for Mr Hawke’s three children in her father’s will, which bequeaths his entire remaining estate to his biographer and wife, Ms d’Alpuget.

Bob Hawke and Blanche d’Alpuget married in 1995.

Under the arrangement that was struck separately to Mr Hawke’s will, his three children Susan Pieters-Hawke, Stephen Hawke and Rosslyn Dillon were awarded around $750,000 each, in a payment from Ms d’Alpuget, immediately upon his death.

The payment was also awarded to Ms d’Alpuget’s son, Louis Pratt, upon Mr Hawke’s death.

Unless a private agreement is struck between the parties, the matter will shortly proceed to the NSW Supreme Court, with a challenge on the grounds of inadequate family provision.

Ms Dillon has engaged Sydney family law specialists Tiyce & Lawyers to represent her in the matter.

Blanche d’Apulget chats with Rosslyn Dillon, the daughter of former PM Bob Hawke. Photo: ABC

Mr Hawke’s children were estranged from their stepmother for many years after their father’s 1995 remarriage, but in recent years repaired the relationship.

“Particularly since I lost Mum, we have become extremely close,’’ Ms Dillon told the ABC’s Australian Story.

But there was another hint of family discord at Mr Hawke’s state memorial, when Ms d’Alpuget acknowledged his “eldest daughter Sue Pieters-Hawke” twice in her speech but failed to mention Ros and Stephen by name.

Bob and Hazel Hawke with their daughters and grandchildren. Photo: ABC

Grandson David Dillon, the son of Ros, said Mr Hawke’s divorce from his first wife Hazel to marry his on-off lover of 20 years was “an earthquake within the family”.

But it was Ros who arranged Mr Hawke’s final visit to farewell Hazel.

“In the week that Mum was dying I felt that there must be closure of some kind for her and Dad,” Ms Dillon said.

It was during this final visit that Mr Hawke sang to Hazel and she whispered, “I love you”.

It was Ms Dillon’s struggles with heroin addiction in the 1980s that famously prompted Mr Hawke to weep on national television.

Ros Dillon speaks to Australian Story. Photo: ABC

But there is no suggestion that her successful battle against substance abuse is a factor in the estate matter as all the children secured equal shares.

In her book, Bob Hawke: Prime Minister, Ms d’Alpuget said Rosslyn first ran away from home as a 15-year-old schoolgirl. She was eventually found by Mr Hawke and his friend Sir Peter Abeles in a Sydney drug den.

“It was obvious to everyone who knew Rosslyn and her husband, who partied with the Brett and Wendy Whiteley crowd, that they were using heroin; everyone, that is, except her parents, who clung steadfastly to the belief that their daughter did not use hard drugs,” d’Alpuget wrote.

“The news from the hospital in the first week of August that the new mother was so wasted by heroin she could soon be dead fell on Hawke like a blow from an axe.”

Bob Hawke becomes emotional while discussing media coverage of his daughter in the mid 1980s. Photo: ABC

At a press conference shortly afterwards Mr Hawke blew up after he was accused by the opposition of not caring about the drug trade. While the media were assumed he was crying over Sue, who had recently been arrested for marijuana possession, his tears were for Ros.

“He was thinking of her day and night, of how to save her and his grandsons, who could soon be motherless,” Ms d’Alpuget wrote.

The late Bob Hawke with second wife Blanche D’Alpuget.

“The press conference was the start of a full-scale crisis in the office because Hawke, after a month of silent self-flagellation, could no longer conceal the family secret. Nor could he function as national leader. He had gone from the interview to a meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who hanged people for possession of heroin, and burst into tears, weeping in Mahathir’s arms as he told him the story.”

A week later, it was Hazel Hawke who explained the circumstances of Ros’s life-threatening battle with heroin.

In 2011, there were also reports of an “airport brawl” between Sue Pieters-Hawke and Ms d’Alpuget.

Ms Pieters-Hawke, who called the police to the lounge “to ensure there was an accurate record of the altercation”, later told the ABC’s 7.30 that her stepmother had slapped her in the face.

“I approached her to say a friendly hello, but she slapped me hard three or four times, and yes, I was shaken,” Ms Pieters-Hawke said.

Bob Hawke with wife Blanche d’Alpuget at a Sydney theatre opening night.

Mr Hawke’s remaining estate would appear to be substantial.

In March, the couple sold their four-storey Northbridge home, reportedly for $15 million but remained living there until his death in May.

Mr Hawke and his first wife Hazel had originally paid $1.23 million for the knockdown house overlooking Middle Harbour in 1991.

It eventually included a multi-storey trophy home, including a putting green for the former PM to practise golf, a private jetty and a boathouse.

After Mr Hawke divorced Hazel, Ms d’Alpuget’s name was added to the title deeds in 1999.

Before his death, the couple settled on a $3.63 million apartment in the new One30 Hyde Park building in Sydney.

The apartment was purchased solely in Ms d’Alpuget’s name.

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