Bob Hawke Rosslyn Dillon Bill Landeryou
Former PM Bob Hawke and his daughter Rosslyn Dillon (Image: AAP/Paul Miller)

Over the weekend came shock allegations from Rosslyn Dillon, daughter of late prime minister Bob Hawke, that she had been raped by late Labor MP and Hawke ally Bill Landeryou in the 1980s — and that she had been pressured to stay silent because it might hamper Hawke’s ambitions to lead the Labor Party.

The allegations are part of a 25-page affidavit lodged in the New South Wales Supreme Court, part of a $4 million legal claim Dillon has made on her father’s estate.

Bill Landeryou died in February of this year after several decades of political life. Just who was the Labor MP?

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Union hard man

Landeryou was the president of Victorian Young Labor in the mid sixties, and worked his way up to Victorian and federal secretary leader of the Storemen and Packers Union, now the National Union of Workers.

He became a Labor member of the Victorian upper house in 1976 while still a union official under Clyde Holding. Landeryou was a classic party machine man: not high profile, but a numbers guy who lasted across four Victorian Labor leaders. He was considered a tough, even unpleasant operator — a Right faction hard man who delighted in brawling with the party’s left.

Picking winners

Landeryou was an extremely close ally of Hawke’s and a right-wing power broker. He was one of the chief organisers of Hawke’s push to become Labor leader in the early 1980s, when the alleged assaults occurred.

Hawke wasn’t the only Labor figure to benefit from Landeryou’s support.  By this time ALP leader in the Victorian Legislative Council, Landeryou was among a number of John Cain’s supporters who destabilised the leadership of Frank Wilkes across 1980 and 1981, eventually forcing his resignation. Cain went on to win the 1982 Victorian election, and Landeryou was elected minister for industrial affairs as well as labour and industry.

Landeryou also mentored Labor figures Bill Kelty and Simon Crean.

Family ties

Landeryou’s son Andrew is a businessman and political blogger (who had more than his share of run-ins with Crikey during our early days). Andrew ran the now-defunct political and media gossip site VexNews as well as a series of ill-fated business ventures.

At one point Landeryou Sr was forced into bankruptcy after having been one of the guarantors of Andrew’s online gambling business. Landeryou Jr is a close confidant and informal adviser of former Labor leader Bill Shorten, and is married to Labor senator Kimberly Kitching, who was appointed to fill Stephen Conroy’s senate spot in 2016.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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