Former Australian PM, Malcom Fraser, dies aged 84

By Efrosini Costa

Former Australian PM, Malcom Fraser, dies aged 84
Australia's former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, has died aged 84. We take a look at his lasting legacy for the nation.

Australia’s Prime Minister from 1975 to 1983, Fraser’s passing was confirmed by a brief statement from his office.

“It is with deep sadness that we inform you that after a brief illness John Malcolm Fraser died peacefully in the early hours of the morning of 20 March 2015,” the statement read.

“We appreciate that this will be a shock to all who knew and loved him, but ask that the family be left in peace at this difficult time.”

Australia’s 22nd Prime Minister, Fraser was appointed to the position on November 11, 1975, after Governor-General Dr John Kerr notoriously dismissed Gough Whitlam’s Labor government.

The government’s treasurer Joe Hockey has made a statement about Fraser’s contribution to building a better Australia.

“These events just indicate how in one way or another we all stand on the shoulders of those that were before us,” Hockey said this morning.

“Right or wrong, many people have contributed to public life over a long period of time that have helped to build a better Australia and unquestionably he was one of them. So we pass on our condolences.”

Early years

Born in Toorak in 1930, Malcolm Fraser had politics in his blood.

His grandfather was a farmer who became a senator in the early 1900s.

But, growing up on family farms in New South Wales and Victoria he fell into politics by accident after being persuaded to contest his local seat against a sitting Labor candidate.

“To hell with it. No point throwing your hat into the ring and not winning, so I started to work at it… and won,” Fraser had said of his first step into a political life.

He went on to become Australia’s youngest member of Parliament at age 25 and represented the seat of Wannon in Victoria’s Western District until his retirement in 1983.

Fraser won leadership of the liberal party in 1975 and later that year, he used senate numbers to defer budget supply bills for the then scandal-plagued Whitlam government.

He then became the nation’s 22nd Prime Minister after the historic dismissal in November 1975.

The coalition went on to win two more elections, his election victory was the biggest in Australia’s history.

Lasting legacy

Hated by progressive critics for years, Fraser’s retirement from politics was marked by his vocal criticisms of current Liberal government’s policies, especially towards indigenous communities and refugees.

In the last two years he maintained a strong presence in Australian political debate, contributing a variety of articles and opinion pieces for newpapers and websites in the country as well as voicing his thoughts quite actively online through social media.

Despite his conservative fiscal policies of the past, it is perhaps his socially progressive heart that he will most be remembered for.

Fraser was responsible for passing land rights legislation for Indigenous Australia as well as creating the nation’s multicultural broadcaster SBS.

His passion for upholding human rights even saw him establish a local branch of CARE international and in 1988 he was awarded a Human Rights Medal for his contribution to social causes.

In 2010, Fraser quit the Liberal Party, criticising the current government for fostering “fear and reaction” particularly on the issues of immigration.

“We need more inclusive and wiser policies to help build a more peaceful world,” Malcolm Fraser, wrote in his last article.




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