Saturday, 21 March 2015

Prime Ministerial chalk and cheese

Yesterday, Australia's 22nd Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, passed away.

Malcolm Fraser

Mr Fraser was not the most popular of Prime Ministers during his term of office yet at the end of his life colleagues and opponents alike have looked back with respect, even admiration, for achievements which included refugee resettlement, multicultural policies, Aboriginal land rights, the Human Rights Commission, the Special Broadcasting Service and the fight against the Apartheid policies in South Africa.

In the fashionable statement 'du jour', Mr Fraser ended up on the right side of history.

This week, Australia's 28th and current Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, provided - yet again - a contrast.

Tony Abbott

During the week Mr Abbott spoke against bullying in a speech to mark 2015 National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence. The sentiments sounded fine. What a pity that only a day earlier Mr Abbott had displayed all the hallmarks of a bully in referring to an opponent in Parliament as 'Dr Goebbels'. Did Mr Abbott even for one moment consider the irony of his words versus his actions?

Then yesterday Mr Abbott reflected on the achievements of Mr Fraser identifying a number of those that I mentioned above. The contrast of Mr Abbott's history of actions in the very areas he was praising Mr Fraser could not be more different nor damning.

Those of us who remember life during Mr Fraser's Prime Ministership could not have foreseen then that at the end of his life he would be the subject of deserved acclaim for his lifetime's work.

Many of us who are experiencing Mr Abbott's Prime Ministership cannot imagine there is a chance in hell of him being the subject of equivalent acclaim when his time comes.

Chalk and cheese.


  1. The Abbott won't be well remembered in history. I have such conflicted feelings about Fraser. He seemed so awful when he was PM, yet was it around then or a bit later when he was very against Ian Smith in Rhodesia. He had my respect for that, but how wrong did it all become there. The awful Fraser of the seventies turned into a respected social activist and sensible commentator in his later life. Pun perhaps intended, but he was a class above Howard and those since. I was truly sad when I heard Fraser had died. He was perhaps the last of that style of politician.

    1. Yes Fraser was a mass of contradictions. Are not most of us?

      I believe that one way or another Tony Abbott's tenure as PM will not survive or even complete one term of government. I won't be sorry about that.