Malcolm Fraser, 1931-2015
March 19, 2015 4:24 PM   Subscribe

Malcolm Fraser, former Australian Prime Minister, has died aged 84.

Malcolm Fraser was a member of the centre-right Liberal Party, and became Prime Minister in 1975 when the Governor-General dismissed the left-wing Whitlam Labor government, after it had failed to get supply bills through parliament; he governed until 1983, when a (this time more centrist) Labor government, fronted by Bob Hawke, took office. In recent years, Fraser's views had moved more to the left relative to the Australian political landscape; he was critical of the Howard government's policies, and before the last election, endorsed a Greens candidate.
posted by acb (30 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Previously (sort of).
posted by acb at 4:25 PM on March 19, 2015


Fraser quit the Liberal party in 2010, largely due to the party's (current) approach to race and human rights.

He talks about his position in this interview with The Conversation.

Rememeber that, when the party ghouls come out to claim him as one of their own. He wasn't. He despised them.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:37 PM on March 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


Rememeber that, when the party ghouls come out to claim him as one of their own. He wasn't. He despised them.

I call it penance for openly hijacking the democratic process of our country.

RIP 2015 Malcolm Fraser.
Rot in hell 1975 Malcolm Fraser.
posted by Talez at 4:45 PM on March 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh my goodness. 40 years I would have been happy to dance on his grave. Today I am sad that one of our great humanitarian's has died. Such is life, change and maturity.

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posted by Kerasia at 5:07 PM on March 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


Thanks for setting up SBS, Malcolm.

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posted by Wolof at 5:08 PM on March 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


As far as ostensibly CIA-appointed right-wing strongmen go, he was somewhat of a damp squib. And whether he atoned for that, or whether Australia itself moved so far to the right that he became a figure of The Left by default, the end result was the same.

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posted by acb at 5:29 PM on March 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


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posted by misterbee at 5:42 PM on March 19, 2015


đź•—
posted by clavdivs at 5:51 PM on March 19, 2015


In 1976 and 1980, the Fraser government offered amnesty to people who didn't have proper paperwork for being in Australia. My family was one of the many that took up the offer in 1980 and we've lived a beautiful, safe, privileged life ever since. The alternative would have had us in desperate poverty. And I think I would probably have died long ago; I was very sick, very often when I was a toddler. I didn't get good treatment until my parents had access to Australian health care.

I'm so grateful.

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posted by stellathon at 6:59 PM on March 19, 2015 [17 favorites]


He committed a great theft and spent the rest of his life trying to attone. Fat chance.
posted by emf at 7:00 PM on March 19, 2015


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posted by Renoroc at 7:15 PM on March 19, 2015


Life wasn't meant to be easy.
posted by unliteral at 7:50 PM on March 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Malcolm was a moderate Liberal, not one of the far-right types we have now. He did some good things and it was good to see him standing up as a staunch supporter of the right to seek asylum in Australia, even against the party he used to represent. Even as a lifelong leftie and Gough supporter, I would welcome another Malcolm as PM today compared to anyone from the current major parties.

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posted by andraste at 7:58 PM on March 19, 2015 [3 favorites]




He did some good things and it was good to see him standing up as a staunch supporter of the right to seek asylum in Australia, even against the party he used to represent.

He was an unprincipled patrician; he was a main-chancer both in and out of office; he only subscribed to human rights because it let him swan around the world as part of the [EEURGH] "eminent" [OUARGHHH] "persons" [UHHHHHHHH] "group" [MIGHTY CHUNDER AT THE VERY NAME OF SOMETHING SO ANTI-AUSTRALIAN].

Even as a lifelong leftie and Gough supporter, I would welcome another Malcolm as PM today compared to anyone from the current major parties.

Oh well, that goes without saying. Yes. He will be missed.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:03 PM on March 19, 2015


I said it on Twitter, bu t it bears repeating.

Vale Malcolm Fraser. I got my political fire railing against him in the 70s and learned about change, growth and compassion from him since.
posted by taff at 9:55 PM on March 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


He also supported marriage equality. I had a lot of happiness tweeting with Malcolm over the years.
posted by taff at 10:33 PM on March 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


After the Fraser Government's first swingeing attack on the public service generally and public education in particular, my mother (at the time a State high school French teacher) went on her first ever protest rally bearing a sign reading "Honi soit qui pense y Mal"; he was one of my family's unquestioned bogeymen for a very long time.

But he made the right call on the Cambodian boat people and maintained a consistent position on that issue for his whole life. Accusing him of posing as a humanitarian for prestige's sake is churlish and completely unwarranted.
posted by flabdablet at 10:36 PM on March 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


My mum was a high school teacher too and we went to quite a few rallies. Your mum was clever and hilarious. My mum just managed outrage and indignation.

And he was no poseur. He was an evolving and evolved human being. Flawed, no doubt. But capable of introspection, reflection and rehabilitation. I became a fan.

Joe is a curmudgeon.
posted by taff at 10:45 PM on March 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


My partner and her family would probably be dead in Vietnam, or severely suffering, if not for him. Thanks, Mal.
posted by smoke at 10:59 PM on March 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I second that. Thanks Mal for mrssmoke and the fabulous whisp babies.
posted by taff at 11:10 PM on March 19, 2015


Joe is a curmudgeon.

Hush, you.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:12 PM on March 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Honi soit qui pense y Mal

Mes plus sincères félicitations à Mme. flabdablet l'aînée.
posted by Wolof at 11:46 PM on March 19, 2015




I was born during his tenure and have benefitted from his changes in many ways without experiencing the rage of the Whitlam stuff on a personal level. It seems that he stuck to his principles while the Liberal party drifted rightwards. In recent years he has served as a reminder to me that not everyone who disagrees with my politics is an irredeemable arsehole; people of good conscience can disagree and find a compromise.
posted by harriet vane at 1:30 AM on March 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


It isn't particularly clever or original to drop 'all mouth, no trousers' but this isn't complete without it.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 2:06 AM on March 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm 47 and grew up thinking of Mal and the Libs as the bad guys, a view which only became stronger when I immersed myself in 1975 lore as a pol sci undergrad in the late 80s. When Gough died last year, I lost a hero. Once I would as happily have danced on Mal's grave as on Maggie's.

But while Maggie's legacy in Britain becomes more toxic by the year, Mal's is more benign. His government did preside over many positive changes, and saw through some of what Gough started. I'll never approve of what he did in '75, although I attach most of the blame to Kerr for cravenly going along with it. Dismantling Medibank was a blot on his copybook as well, as was making a minister of John Howard. But post-PM he did and said a lot worth admiring.

David Pope's cartoon in the Canberra Times today captured it best, I thought. (Sorry, on an iPhone so can't easily link, will do later.)
posted by rory at 4:42 AM on March 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yes. Good one.
posted by flabdablet at 4:49 AM on March 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love that at the key point of a constitutional crisis Norman Gunston turns up to cover events, and senior politicians actually talk to him.

Fraser did some important things, such as SBS and actually treating refugees, but there is also the dismissal, and he left the country on the brink of a recession (though that was probably Howards fault.

As already mentioned a complex man.

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posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 6:52 AM on March 20, 2015


Thanks flabdablet, that was the one. Loved the way it referenced the old '70s jokes about how Fraser looked like an Easter Island statue, too.
posted by rory at 8:06 AM on March 20, 2015


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