Malcolm Fraser

Quick Facts

  • Prime Minister: 1975-1983 (Liberal Party)
  • Name: John Malcolm Fraser
  • Born: Melbourne, 21 May 1930
  • First elected to Parliament at the age of 25

Favourite hobbies: photography and fishing
Most famous quote: ‘Life wasn’t meant to be easy’


Malcolm Fraser became Prime Minister in controversial circumstances in November 1975, when he was appointed caretaker Prime Minister after the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, dismissed the then Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, and the Labor Government. Fraser served as caretaker Prime Minister until the election of December 1975. The Fraser Government won the election in December 1975 in a landslide, and was returned at elections in 1977, and 1980. It would eventually be defeated by the Hawke-led Labor Party in the elections of March 1983.

Malcolm Fraser, the grandson of Sir Simon Fraser, a Victorian parliamentarian and later a Senator, was born into a wealthy farming family. He was educated at Melbourne Grammar School and Oxford University where he studied Politics, Economics and Philosophy. He joined the Liberal Party and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1956, when he was 25 years old. 

As Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser surprised some political commentators when his government put in place programs that continued some of the reforms made by the Whitlam Government, the government Fraser had worked to defeat. Fraser’s government established the Family Court of Australia and  the television station SBS (Special Broadcasting Service), passed Aboriginal Land Rights laws, banned whaling from Australian waters, approved the building of a new Parliament House and set up the Australian Refugee Advisory Council to assist the settlement of Vietnamese refugees in Australia.

Intending to take advantage of leadership problems in the Labor Party, Fraser announced an election for March 1983. Soon after Fraser announced the election, the Opposition changed its leader from Bill Hayden to Bob Hawke. The Australian Labor Party led by Hawke won the 1983 election.

Since his election defeat Malcolm Fraser has continued to play an important role in community life, in particular as President of Care International. In recent years, Malcolm Fraser has been critical of Liberal Party policies and has become a spokesperson for causes such as Aboriginal Reconciliation, support for refugees and for Australia becoming a republic.



  • Ayres, Phillip 1987, Malcolm Fraser, A Biography, Heinemann, Melbourne.
  • Brett, Judith (ed) 1997, Political Lives, Allen & Unwin, Sydney.
  • Kelly, Paul, 'Malcolm Fraser', in Michelle Grattan (ed) 2000, Australian Prime Ministers, New Holland, Sydney.