Page 985 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 24 March 2015

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In recognition of the legislative record of his government in Indigenous land rights, as well as his personal commitment for all his public and private life to anti-racism, Aboriginal reconciliation and minority rights, Mr Fraser was awarded Australia’s Human Rights Medal in 2000 for his contribution to the advancement of human rights in Australia and internationally.

Malcolm Fraser’s life was one of achievement, one of principle, and, for one period, intense controversy. That this one moment did not define him is a credit to his ongoing achievements in public life across six decades.

On behalf of my colleagues and the people of the ACT, I would like to extend my sincere condolences to the Fraser family and to recognise Malcolm Fraser’s significant contribution to our nation.

MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition): Last Friday it was with sadness that we learned that Australia’s 22nd Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, had passed away. I rise today to pay tribute on behalf of the opposition to a great servant of Australia and a true giant of Australian political and public life.

John Malcolm Fraser, who died aged 84, was Prime Minister from November 1975 to March 1983, making him the third longest serving Liberal Prime Minister after Robert Menzies and John Howard. In 1955 he won the western Victorian seat of Wannon in a by-election. He was 25, the then youngest member of federal parliament. He served under Menzies and became army minister in Harold Holt’s first ministry. He then rose steadily, being education and science minister twice, and defence minister.

Fraser became Leader of the Opposition in 1975. Certainly no discourse of this period can ignore the dismissal of the Labor government of that time. However, it also cannot be ignored that when the dismissal occurred a general election was immediately called to let the Australian people have their say. They did have their say, and they overwhelmingly endorsed the Fraser Liberal government in both houses of parliament. Malcolm Fraser won the largest majority in Australian political history, with 91 seats in the House of Representatives, while Labor lost 30 seats and half of their caucus. That was no fluke of history. In his second election the coalition lost just five seats.

In all, Fraser won three consecutive elections and he led the country for eight years. From the Labor legacy of high interest rates and high unemployment, he narrowed Australia’s deficit, turned inflation around and grew the economy. Malcolm Fraser led Australia out of precarious political and economic times. He was a strong and decisive leader. His focus was on a strong and prosperous Australia.

However, Fraser’s full legacy was not just economic. His vision was characterised by diverse and lasting reforms in many fields. As Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser created new opportunities in the post Vietnam War era for those fleeing communism. Believing it was wrong to turn his back on old allies, Fraser made the decision to allow 70,000 Vietnamese refugees to settle in Australia. Eventually 200,000 migrants arrived in Australia from Asia during his three governments.

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