Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser.Obituary: a towering figure who crossed the political divideMalcolm Fraser condolence bookMalcolm Fraser: full coverageLive coverage
Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser has died.
“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,” a statement from Mr Fraser’s office 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.”
Mr Fraser was prime minister of Australia and leader of the Liberal Party from 1975 to 1983.
He was Australia’s 22nd prime minister, taking the job in events so dramatic they still reverberate decades on.
Mr Fraser was sworn in as caretaker prime minister in 1975 after the Whitlam government was dismissed in a constitutional crisis that followed months of budget deadlock in the Senate.
He led the Liberals to victory in the 1975 election before being succeeded by Labor’s Bob Hawke in 1983.
While the political left loathed Mr Fraser for his role in the 1975 “coup” against Gough Whitlam, the pair developed a close friendship post politics.
Mr Whitlam died in October last year.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, said Mr Fraser’s death marks “a sad moment for all Australians”.
“It’s a particularly sad day for all who cheered Malcolm Fraser on in those stirring days when he led the fight against what many of us thought was a bad government, the days of 1975,” he said.
“He was, as he put it, determined to turn on the lights and to restore Australia’s economic fortunes.”
Treasurer Joe Hockey said “history will be much kinder to Mr Fraser than many of his critics have been over the years”.
“He was a very strong character who was not afraid to stand up for what was right. The Liberal Party will be mourning his passing.”
“I think many Australians will be mourning his passing because he provided stability and reassurance at a time when Australia had gone through incredible upheaval,” he said.
“It is the end of an era, two towering figures,” he said, in reference to the deaths of political rivals Mr Whitlam and Mr Fraser.
Former prime minister John Howard, who also served as treasurer in the Fraser government, spoke to the media, paying tribute to the “remarkable strength and capacity Malcolm Fraser displayed in holding the Coalition together” during the constitutional crisis of 1975.
“Anybody who achieves what Malcolm Fraser achieved in his life deserves respect as a quite extraordinary Australian. He brought to the government of this country, he brought great integrity. As chairman of cabinet he had a fiercer knowledge of any submission that came across the cabinet table and pity help any minister who hadn’t sufficiently read the submission that had been prepared for him or her by the respective department,” he said.
Former prime minister Julia Gillard issued a statement of condolence, saying: “Malcolm Fraser in and beyond politics was a leader in the fight for racial equality.
“His brave stance against the evil of South Africa’s apartheid helped changed the world for the better. Malcolm will always be remembered kindly for his commitment to multiculturalism and his specific actions to resettle Vietnamese boat people in Australia.”
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd issued a statement honouring Mr Fraser’s achievements in fighting apartheid in South Africa, advancing the interests of Indigenous Australians and the passage of the Human Rights Act in 1981.
“Prime Minister Fraser will be remembered as a compassionate Australian, who cared for people at home or abroad, who had little or nothing to protect them,” he said
In recent years, Mr Fraser had become an outspoken critic of the Liberal Party and quit the party in 2010 over the party’s lurch to the right on issues such as immigration.
In a statement, former prime minister Paul Keating described Mr Fraser’s death as a “great loss to Australia”
“He detested what he saw as our strategic subservience to the United States and our willingness to be easily led from the path of a truly independent foreign policy.
“His public life also enshrined other important principles: no truck with race or colour and no tolerance for whispered notions of exclusivity tinged by race. These principles applied throughout his political life,” Mr Keating said.
Just last month, Mr Fraser wrote in Fairfax about what he saw as a worrying expansion of ministerial powers over asylum seekers.
Mr Fraser was a prolific user of Twitter in recent years.
His last message, a day ago, linked to an Australian National University website story: “Time for a new China vision – Asia and the Pacific – ANU” MPs pay tribute
In a statement, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Mr Fraser would be remembered, among many achievements, for introducing the Aboriginal Land Rights Act in 1976 and for his fight against racism.
Mr Turnbull said Fraser’s passionate belief in immigration and multiculturalism enabled large scale migration from Asia, including more than 50,000 refugees from Vietnam, and the establishment of multicultural broadcaster SBS.
“In office and out of it he showed himself to have a big and compassionate heart,” he said.
“Modern Australia would be very different without his vision and leadership.
“Whether one agreed with him or not, in whole or in part, one thing was never in doubt. Malcolm Fraser was a passionately patriotic Australian with a big, liberal vision for our country and its people.”
Attorney-General George Brandis credited Mr Fraser for inspiring him to enter politics when as a teenager he was struck by his dramatic resignation from the Gorton government in 1971.
“Although in his older years he was a very emollient figure, perhaps even more fondly thought of by the left than by the right, in his early days he was actually a divisive and rebarbative figure. He was the opposition leader who was responsible for the blocking of supply in 1975, so it just goes to show that in the course of a long life and in the course of a long career, people can mellow and soften as Malcolm Fraser undoubtedly did.”
Father of the House, Philip Ruddock, pleaded for people to look past the way Mr Fraser came to office in the wake of Gough Whitlam’s dismissal.
“Those who recall the manner of his election discouragingly should remember Malcolm as a liberal on issues of race and human rights,” Mr Ruddock tweeted.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne said: “Vale Malcolm Fraser. A life dedicated to the service of our country. We will be poorer without him. Thoughts are with his family.”
Assistant Education Minister Simon Birmingham wrote: “Though many disagreed with him at different times #MalcolmFraser was a man of conviction & compassion who gave much to public life – vale.”
Human Services Minister Marise Payne tweeted: “Vale Malcolm Fraser. A Liberal leader, great Australian, mentor to many in the political generations who followed him.”
Labor senator Doug Cameron was shocked to hear of Mr Fraser’s death on Friday, having only recently dined with the former prime minister and his wife Tamie.
“I am just devastated that Australia has lost a great voice for human rights,” Senator Cameron told reporters in Canberra.
Liberal Party pollster Mark Textor passed on his condolences on Twitter.
“Rest In Peace Malcolm #Fraser. A Man of considerable dignity and rare gravitas.”
Senior Labor MP Michelle Rowland tweeted: “Malcolm Fraser provided strong leadership on matters of multiculturalism and racial equality. May he rest in peace.” Time for a new China vision – Asia and the Pacific – ANU http://t杭州龙凤419/vbSJiGDcmW — Malcolm Fraser (@MalcolmFraser12) March 18, 2015The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.