Dr Mumbo

How the Sunday Telegraph doorstepped Bob Hawke’s deathbed

Dr Mumbo salutes The Sunday Telegraph’s showbiz columnist Annette Sharp for her bravery, if nothing else.

It’s not every journalist who would choose to tell the story of gatecrashing Bob Hawke’s deathbed, even if there were (some) extenuating circumstances.

Hawke remained accessible to the end, says Sharp

Sharp cheerfully dedicates today’s column to telling how the former prime minister passed away while, uninvited, she was inside his house and “just a few paces” away.

She reveals that she was last weekend told by “the editor” (presumably Mick Carroll) to track down the ageing Labor icon because he had not been seen much in public, and to find out how he was.

In the interests of bizarre journalistic detail, Sharp also reveals that the editor was eating “18-hour, slow-roasted beef brisket” at the time of her instructions.

She tells readers that she expected her inquiries would be unwelcome because of her previous writing about Hawke’s personal life. Not that this would deter her research over the next few days.

Once she was told that Hawke was “ageing, frail and depressed”, Sharp’s proud mission of truth became to find out whether Hawke was at his new home in Sydney’s Northbridge or actually “in hospital or a respite facility”. And then to get a photo of him.

So after despatching a photographer to sit outside Hawke’s home for four hours, she took matters into her own hands and on Thursday went and sat outside herself.

Nobody seemed to be coming or going, so she did what any investigative journalist (who wants to inquire about the health of a frail, depressed man) might do, and buzzed on the security intercom.

Luckily for Sharp, and her even more fortunate readers, “a small thickly accented voice” answered, who Sharp concluded must be the cleaner.

So Sharp asked for wife Blanche d’Alpuget, without (as her account seems to indicate) revealing she was a journalist.

The cleaner buzzed her in.

A man (who she believes to be a doctor) opened the door to her and her into a silent house. When she told the man she was from the Sunday Tele and asked for Hawke, the doctor suggested she contact the Labor party instead. She says she apologised and left.

Sharp tells her readers: “Seven hours later, before the news of his death broke, my sources returned my calls.

“‘Bob has just died with Blanche at his side,’ they said.

“Yes, I could have added, and me just a few paces further away.”

She must be very proud.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.