The accusations by Rosslyn Dillon, nee Hawke, that she was repeatedly raped by Victorian state Labor MP Bill Landeryou in the early 1980s have been dropped down the Australian memory hole with great despatch. The reason is not hard to see. Dillon accuses her father, the late Bob Hawke, of knowing about the rapes and persuading her not to go to the police or others with them, as this would affect his challenge for the leadership, in the lead up to the 1983 election. Bob is a secular saint to progressives and so they have simply turned the other way.
That is staggeringly hypocritical, since the mantra has always been to ‘believe women’ in such cases. That’s especially so when there is corroboration from the time of the incidents from Hawke’s other daughter, Rosslyn’s sister Sue Pieters-Hawke. Such real-time corroboration is the gold standard for sex crime prosecution. Progressives are hiding behind the suggestion that Dillon is telling stories in order to get bigger slice of Hawke’s $15 million estate, of whigh four children (three natural, one step) have received only $750,000 each. Dillon argues that she’s a recovering drug addict who lost years of life and is unable to work, thus requiring an additional share of the estate. That’s a perfectly straightforward legal argument. To see it as gold-digging denies the legitimacy of the proposition xxxx is making: that Bill Landeryou’s actions further destroyed her composure at a vulnerable time. She had, after all, been put in Landeryou’s office as a staffer, by Hawke, in order to go straight, after years of heroin addiction.
But there’s no surprise that progressives are peddling furiously to get away from this story, for it has the capacity to tear a hole in Labor mythology, only a few months after Hawke was buried. For it is not only Hawke as a man but the legacy of the progressive movement within Labor that’s at stake.
That’s especially so for Victorian Labor, and former Premier John Cain, whose 1982-1990 reign is oft-taken as a measure of how a Labor government can be progressive and successful. Cain banned nuclear ships from ports, restarted the state economy, ramrodded schools and hospitals, and got arts and culture going with some big state funding, among other things. He also, from day one, announced that he would run a government of probity, and not tolerate the usual shenanigans. The first minister to get shunted out of Cabinet for such shenanigans was…..Bill Landeryou, who was dispatched for various dodgy dealings in land sales, and zonings. This was late 1983 and though there was no love lost for Bill Landeryou, there was some questioning of the malfeasance, and the penalty. It was an exceptionally minor piece of corruption, if it was corruption at all, not slackness.
But now the question has to be asked: did John Cain sack Landeryou because he was asked to by Bob Hawke? Or because there were rumours in the air that Landeryou was more than a bit of a crook? Or something more than rumours? (John Cain was approached for comment, but we have received none). The timing fits excellently, as does the magnitude of the crime. So too does Hawke’s famous on-camera breakdown in 1984, when he burst into tears when discussing his daughter. That was put down to Dillon’s heroin addiction – Hazel Hawke announced it – which had not yet been made public. But the Hawkes had been dealing with that for years. Did Rosslyn, in 1984, make it clear to Hawke just how devastating the incidents had been to her? Was Hawke’s breakdown prompted by guilt? How much of Labor knew of this at the time? And what does it say about the myths we have lived by if they did?