Keating says Hawke book rewrites history

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has accused his predecessor Bob Hawke of rewriting history, saying he carried him through years of malaise.

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An updated Hawke biography, written by his wife Blanche D’Alpuget, has just been launched, with extracts published in the Weekend Australian.

In a letter published The Australian, Mr Keating – who is yet to read the entire book – bristled at passages in the book.

Mr Keating served as treasurer under Mr Hawke, overseeing a series of key reforms including floating the Australian dollar. He successfully challenged Mr Hawke and became prime minister in

December 1991.

Damaged relationship

The letter appears to be the latest flareup in a long smouldering row between the pair.

In the book, Mr Hawke acknowledged a period of depression in 1984 when his daughter Rosslyn had been using heroin.

Mr Keating said that depression lasted much longer.

“The fact is, Bob, I was exceedingly kind to you for a very long time,” he writes in the letter.

‘Emotional, intellectual malaise’

“I will also bet London to a brick on, that notwithstanding what the serialised account on Saturday had to say of your breakdown in 1984, that the book will fail to make clear that your emotional and intellectual malaise lasted for years.”

Mr Keating said he carried Mr Hawke through the whole 1984-1987 parliament, insisting he look like the prime minister.

“No other prime minister would have survived going missing for that long,” he said.

“All through the Tax Summit year of 1985; through to your lacklustre performance through the 1987 election, to the point when in 1988, four years later, (John) Dawkins had to front you, asking you to leave.”

Mr Keating said he was now considering writing his own book.

“That yours and Blanche’s rewriting of history is not only unreasonable and unfair, more than that, it is grasping,” he said.