Vale Malcolm Fraser

I am deeply saddened by this news. Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser dead at 84.

My earliest political memory is of my father pinning a ‘Shame Fraser Shame’ badge to my chest in 1975 in recognition of the role Malcolm played in the dismissal of the Gough Whitlam Government.

Oh how times changed.

In 1999 I came to know him in the context of the Australian Republic Referendum. I was Victorian Deputy Convenor of the ARM and Gough Whitlam teamed up with Malcolm Fraser to support the referendum. If Gough could forgive Malcolm for 1975, why couldn’t we all?

In 2010 Malcolm and I partnered up with the Committee for Melbourne to encourage business to speak up on refugee and asylum issues. He held a strong and principled position on the positive role refugees play when they are welcomed to our country.

In 2013 when I publicly quit the Labor Party over the same issue (see here) the very first phone call I received was not from family or friends, but from Malcolm.

396153_10152050365030478_1156745278_nTwo weeks ago we had our last chat. We talked of the problems facing Australia and the changes we could seek to make. We recognise that rescuing Australia would take a long time and he wished for more younger leaders to stand up.

He was a conviction politician in the best sense of the phrase. He was a man of strong in his convictions and beliefs.

A giant of physical and intellectual stature will now join his Comrade Gough in the Parliament in the sky. They will debate and argue there and both look down upon their successors of recent years and wonder how the country came to this. They will be proud of what they did, but dismayed at what we have done with their legacies.

While I may have lost a friend and mentor, I feel the greater loss others have and pass my sympathies to his family and friends.

Media coverage here.

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