Malcolm Fraser died this morning aged 84. A press release from his family indicated that he passed away earlier this morning. He first became Prime Minister of Australia after being appointed by the then Governor-General John Kerr who had just dismissed Gough Whitlam’s labor government (November 11, 1975). A member of the Liberal party he lead the party in the following election and returned as Australia’s 22nd Prime Minister until 11 March 1983 hen Bob Hawke won the election and became Australia’s 23rd Prime Minister.
During his time as PM, John Howard served as a deputy leader of the Liberal Party to him and he was followed in that role by Andrew Peacock.
He was born in Toorak, Victoria in 1930 and into a political tradition. He played a leadership role in delaying the Whitlam Government’s budget bills, an attempt to force an early election. Months of deadlock followed and the result was Sir John Kerr acting to remove the Prime Minister from office and replacing him with Malcolm Fraser.
On 19 November 1975, a letter bomb was sent to Fraser but it was detected before it reached him.
After his departure from the office of PM, he began to play an increasing role in humanitarian efforts. He put some distance between himself and his former party mates, being critical of the Howard Government on a number of occasions. His legacy was somewhat marred by an incident in 1986 when he was found in the foyer of an apparently seedy hotel of ill-repute in Memphis wearing nothing but a towel. The incident was passed off as the result of a practical joke.
Time will tell as to his political legacy though like many who ascend to high office, his greatest achievements might lie in what he pursued following his retirement from political office. Whatever the case, he will always go down in history for his role in the dismissal of 1975.