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Malcolm Fraser

Prime Minister of Australia

Died when: 84 years 303 days (1017 months)
Star Sign: Gemini


Malcolm Fraser

John Malcolm Fraser (; 21 May 1930 – 20 March 2015) was an Australian politician who served as the 22nd prime minister of Australia, in office from 1975 to 1983 as leader of the Liberal Party of Australia.

Fraser was raised on his father's sheep stations, and after studying at Magdalen College, Oxford, returned to Australia to take over the family property in the Western District of Victoria.

After an initial defeat in 1954, he was elected to the Australian House of Representatives at the 1955 federal election, as a member of parliament (MP) for the division of Wannon.

He was 25 at the time, making him one of the youngest people ever elected to parliament.When Harold Holt became prime minister in 1966, Fraser was appointed Minister for the Army.

After Holt's disappearance and replacement by John Gorton, Fraser became Minister for Education and Science (1968–1969) and then Minister for Defence (1969–1971).

In 1971, Fraser resigned from cabinet and denounced Gorton as "unfit to hold the great office of prime minister"; this precipitated the replacement of Gorton with William McMahon.

He subsequently returned to his old education and science portfolio.After the Liberal-National Coalition was defeated at the 1972 election, Fraser unsuccessfully stood for the Liberal leadership, losing to Billy Snedden.

When the party lost the 1974 election, he began to move against Snedden, eventually mounting a successful challenge in March 1975.As Leader of the Opposition, Fraser used the Coalition's control of the Australian Senate to block supply to the Whitlam Government, precipitating the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis.

This culminated with Gough Whitlam being dismissed as prime minister by the governor-general, Sir John Kerr, a unique occurrence in Australian history.

The correctness of Fraser's actions in the crisis and the exact nature of his involvement in Kerr's decision have since been a topic of debate.

Fraser remains the only Australian prime minister to ascend to the position upon the dismissal of his predecessor.After Whitlam's dismissal, Fraser was sworn in as prime minister on an initial caretaker basis.

The Coalition won a landslide victory at the 1975 election, and was re-elected in 1977 and 1980.Fraser took a keen interest in foreign affairs as prime minister, and was more active in the international sphere than many of his predecessors.

He was a strong supporter of multiculturalism, and during his term in office Australia admitted significant numbers of non-white immigrants (including Vietnamese boat people) for the first time, effectively ending the White Australia policy.

His government also established the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS).Particularly in his final years in office, Fraser came into conflict with the economic rationalist and fiscal conservative faction of his party.

His government made few major changes to economic policy.After losing the 1983 election, Fraser retired from politics.In his post-political career, he held advisory positions with the United Nations (UN) and the Commonwealth of Nations, and was president of the aid agency CARE from 1990 to 1995.

He resigned his membership of the Liberal Party in 2009, having been a critic of its policy direction for a number of years.

Evaluations of Fraser's prime ministership have been mixed.He is generally credited with restoring stability to the country after a series of short-term leaders, but some have seen his government as a lost opportunity for economic reform.

His eight-year tenure as prime minister is the fourth longest in Australian history, only surpassed by Bob Hawke, John Howard and Robert Menzies.

Related People

Bob Hawke
Prime Minister of Australia
Gough Whitlam
Prime Minister of Australia
Robert Menzies
Prime Minister of Australia
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