At eight years old, Bob Hawke’s eldest daughter had just about everything in politics explained to her by one of Australia’s greatest prime ministers.
The beloved former Labor leader taught Sue Pieters-Hawke everything from the arbitration system to the case for a decent wage simply by using a box of corn flakes, she told ABC News Breakfast co-host Virginia Trioli on Friday.
At a very early age, Ms Pieters-Hawke, a public speaker and author, understood that “people needed to be paid decently, and that the mechanisms of that needed to be robust and decent”.
“Because that was part of a fairer world, a fairer society, which is ultimately what he [Bob] was all about,” she said.
“Dad was never too busy to explain the meaning of a complicated word he used. ‘What’s that mean, dad?’ would lead to a long discussion. And also to explain concepts.”
Ms Pieters-Hawke paid tribute to her late father, who died peacefully at home on Thursday night, aged 89.
She is one of four children Mr Hawke had with his first wife, the late Hazel, whom he met at university in Perth.
Ms Pieters-Hawke said her greatest inheritance from the late prime minister was his “passionate commitment to fairness” and appreciation for “the possibility of opportunity”.
She praised Mr Hawke’s successor as PM, Paul Keating, for his tribute that painted a perfect picture of her loving father.
“Paul Keating said last night, in a lovely statement, that Bob had the imagination and understood that imagination was part of policy and of doing good things in government, in pulling those levers and interacting with people about what was possible.
“Dad’s life was about doing that, and finding ways to work with whatever and whoever was there to get towards better outcomes for, you know, people beyond himself.”
— rob harris (@rharris334) May 16, 2019
While “parenting was not his strong suit”, Ms Pieters-Hawke said her late father was “fabulous and inspiring”.
“In the normal sense of parenting, he wouldn’t rate highly, but in some of the less normal senses of parenting, I think he was a fabulous and inspiring dad,” she said.
“He was enormously pleased and relieved that our mother was such an extraordinary parent, because he had deficits on that front.”
Ms Pieters-Hawke also remembered her stepmother, Blanche d’Alpuget, who looked after her father in his later years.
“People remember mum with such fondness, and that warms my heart. But you know what? We’d all moved on, all of us.
“I want to point out and acknowledge the devotion and the love and the care that Blanche has shown my dad, especially in this last period of him being unwell,” she said.
Mr Hawke will have a private funeral in coming days. It will be followed by a public memorial service in Sydney.