Bob Hawke 'wanted to die' because he wasn't 'contributing to society' anymore

Former prime minister Bob Hawke left the world believing he had contributed everything he could, his widow has said.

"He said to me, 'I can't make any further contribution. I've got no contribution to make now'," Blanche d'Alpuget told the ABC’s 7.30.

"Which was one of the reasons he wanted to die, because he thought of his life as contributing to society."

Hawke’s grieving wife fought back tears as she spoke of how the former prime minister didn’t get the chance to cast his vote in the election that was lost by Labor two days after his death.

She explained that despite his ailing health he had been determined to make it to the ballot box.

"He decided he wasn't going to postal vote. He was going to go up in his wheelchair and vote, but he didn't get there," Ms d'Alpuget said.

Ms d'Alpuget's emotional interview with 7.30 comes a week after the giant of Australian politics died peacefully at his Sydney home.

Bob Hawke never made it to the ballot box to cast his vote in the federal election. Source: AAP

The outpouring of affection for the former leader since has been immense, causing mixed emotions for his long-time love.

"It's been a comfort and it's also been a pain. Painful because it brings up all the emotion of his dying," she said.

"But...it has been marvellous for the country to have its heart softened, I think, by the thought of a part of them going away forever."

The former ACTU leader rose through union and Labor ranks and won the party four elections, with his wife Hazel by his side.

But in 1991 he was dumped and replaced by his treasurer Paul Keating, his marriage hit the rocks, and he and Hazel eventually divorced.

In 1995 Hawke married Ms d'Alpuget — his biographer with whom he'd had an affair years earlier.

Mr Hawke married Ms d'Alpuget in 1995. Source: ABC News

It had been in 1978 that she first realised she was in love with Hawke, but Ms d'Alpuget said she had felt immense sadness and guilt over how the affair had hurt Hazel.

"My feelings about Hazel's sadness didn't change. I still always, really up until the end, felt... sorrow for her."

While Hawke and Hazel shared young love, he shared a mature love with Ms d'Alpuget which she characterised by softness, intimacy and a lack of secrets and pretences.

Young people don't often talk about such love because they're afraid of death, Ms d'Alpuget believes, but her husband - whom she admired for his honesty, integrity and strong character - didn't share that trait.

"He had no fear of death."

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, download the Yahoo News app from iTunes or Google Play and stay up to date with the latest news with Yahoo’s daily newsletter. Sign up here.