Bob Hawke’s daughter, Rosslyn Dillon, alleges she was raped in the 1980s while she was employed by former Victorian Labor MP Bill Landeryou.
Rosslyn claims she was assaulted three times in 1982: in the Hilton Hotel, in the Victorian Parliament House and in a Melbourne home. Dillon made the allegations in a 25-page affidavit lodged with the NSW Supreme Court as part of her multi-million-dollar claim on her father’s estate.
“He forced me to perform sexual acts. These included him penetrating me with his penis”, Dillon said in the document.
Dillon said she told Hawke about the alleged rapes and told him she wanted to report them to the police.
Bob Hawke apparently told her to keep the allegations a secret, as he was preparing to challenge Bill Hayden for the leadership of the Labor party.
“You can’t go to the police. You can’t. I can’t have any controversies right now. I am sorry but I am challenging for the leadership of the Labor Party,” Hawke responded, according to the affidavit.
Hawke challenged incumbent federal ALP leader Bill Hayden on the 16th of July 1982 and lost narrowly, by only five votes. It was well known at the time that ALP powerbrokers, such as Graham Richardson and Barrie Unsworth, were considering switching their allegiance, and Hawke would have been feverishly working the numbers.
After a disastrous by-election in December 1982 in the winnable Victorian seat of Flinders (where a young Peter Reith of the Liberals defeated Labor’s Rogan Ward), Hawke struck again. This time he didn’t miss, overthrowing Hayden on the third of February 1983. Fearful of Hawke’s popularity, lacklustre Liberal Prime Minister Malcom Fraser immediately called a snap double-dissolution election. Hawke won the poll in a landslide (a 24-seat swing, the worst defeat for a sitting non-Labor Government in history) to become the first Labor Prime Minister since Whitlam. Under Hawke and later Paul Keating, Labor would spend its longest-ever period in government at the federal level.
The subject of the allegations, Bill Landeryou, was leader of the Labor Party in the Victorian Legislative Council and a minister in the Victorian Labor government of John Cain. He had begun his political career in 1965 in his mid-20s, when he was appointed as a research officer for the Storemen and Packers’ Union (now the National Union of Workers), despite never having worked as a storeman or packer. The usual behind-closed-doors deal had been done, where a promising Labor Party organiser got put on the payroll.
He was indeed promising. By 1976, Landeryou had been elected to the Legislative Council with a safe seat and a ministerial position. By 1979, he had been appointed leader of the opposition in the upper house. Sadly, that same year, fellow union high-flyer Bob Hawke suffered a messy public collapse, due to his self-confessed rampant alcoholism.
At that stage, Bill Landeryou had been a close ally of Hawke for more than 15 years and had helped him take control of the Victorian Labor party, back in the ’60s. There is absolutely no doubt that the two men had a close working relationship. Most Labor Party insiders would tell you that after his alcoholic collapse, one of the reasons Hawke was able to get a safe seat in Melbourne in 1980 was due to the influence of Landeryou. Those same insiders would tell you that Bill also had a significant role in Hawke becoming Labor Party leader in 1983.
The only reason Bob Hawke’s daughter was in proximity to Landeryou, during the period when the alleged offences took place, was because her father had asked Landeryou to take her on as a staffer as a favour.
Rosslyn Dillon is the youngest of Mr Hawke’s three surviving children with former wife Hazel Hawke, who he divorced to marry journalist Blanche d’Alpuget. As part of her claim against Ms d’Alpuget, who is the primary beneficiary of the Hawke estate, Ms Dillion is alleging that her father promised her $4.2 million after his death if she didn’t pursue these allegations.
Dillon’s sister, Sue Pieters-Hawke, states that the Hawke family had known of the allegations. “I love and support my sister… She did tell people at the time. I believe there was a supportive response but it didn’t involve using the legal system.”
Rosslyn was perhaps best known, before this event, for her heroin addiction, which caused her father to break down in tears on television in 1984 while publicly announcing her drug dependency to the nation.
Bob Hawke was named Victorian Father of the Year in 1971. His ex-wife Hazel called the decision “absurd”.
Bill Landeryou died earlier this year and was honoured with a state funeral in Melbourne in March. Bob Hawke also died this year in May, just two days before the 2019 federal election. A state memorial was held for Hawke at the Sydney Opera House on 14 June; speakers included Paul Keating, incumbent Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese.