Former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke’s youngest daughter says she was raped by a confidant of her father in the 1980s, but was urged not to report the assaults to protect the leadership ambitions of Hawke, who died in May.
In claims published by the New Daily, Rosslyn Dillon leveled the allegations against former Labor Party member of parliament Bill Landeryou, who died in February, as part of her legal challenge against her father’s estate.
In a 25-page affidavit lodged in the New South Wales Supreme Court published by the New Daily, Dillon alleges that she told her father of the assaults at their family home and he pleaded with her not to go further with the claims.
“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,” Dillion wrote in the affidavit, adding that she was “shocked and hurt” by her father’s request.
“I thought to myself I could not make any bigger sacrifice to [my father’s] political career if I had tried,” she wrote.
“He asked me to let the matter go for him and I did so for him. I am still haunted by the sexual assaults. I feel that I may have had a chance to get over these rapes if I was able to report the incidents to police,” the affidavit said.
Labor Member of Parliament Tanya Plibersek said she could not comment on specific allegations because of the legal action, but said “in the most general terms, anybody who has been the victim of a sexual assault should be encouraged to take the matter to police to have it dealt with properly, to be thoroughly investigated.”
Dillon’s sister, Sue Pieters-Hawke, told the New Daily that the Hawke family had known of the allegations.
“I love and support my sister,” she told the publication. “She did tell people at the time. I believe there was a supportive response, but it didn’t involve using the legal system.”
Hawke’s will sets out A$750,000 (US$513,048) for each of his three children and his stepson, Louis Pratt, with the remainder of the estate left to his wife, Blanche d’Alpuget. Dillon is seeking A$4 million.
Dillon recalls the assaults as happening in 1983, after her father used his influence to secure her employment with Landeryou, who she says was Australian minister of industrial affairs at the time.
The New Daily reported that the timeline outlined in the affidavit did not “add up — unless she is confused about what year she worked for Mr Landeryou.”
The New Daily reported that Dillon confirmed she was struggling with substance abuse issues at the time of the alleged assaults.
Hawke first mounted a leadership challenge in July 1982, but was unsuccessful. Bill Hayden resigned as Labor leader in February 1983, with Hawke emerging as the successor.
Hawke won the March 1983 election and became one of the Labor Party’s most successful prime ministers.
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