News that former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has passed away at age 84 has hit students on all sides of the political spectrum.
Fraser will be remembered most for leading the Coalition following the controversial dismissal of the Whitlam government in 1975, as well as for his contribution to a more fair and multicultural Australia.
Matthew Lesh of the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation said Fraser was “a political fighter until the end that will leave an unwavering legacy on Australian politics”.
“Fraser restored Australia’s economic and budgetary position, took strong foreign policy positions, and instigated reports that led the way to later structural economic reform.
“Today all Australians mourn the loss of one of our greats,” he said.
Lloyd Rouse of the ALP Club, on the other hand, said that “while Malcolm Fraser held the neo-liberal right wing economic ideologies to be expected of Liberal Prime Ministers, his staunch anti-racist position on many issues truly deserves respect”.
“Even democratic socialists such as myself must respect and admire his role in opposing the South African Apartheid state and his opposition to Australia’s inhumane treatment of asylum seekers.”
“Fraser held a firm anti-racist approach not seen in even the left of politicians today,” he said.
Jason Wong, a member of the Campus Refugee Rights Club, believes “the outpouring of tributes to Fraser demonstrates the desperate desire in Australia for a humane and welcoming policy towards refugees.”
He said, however, that “we can’t hold up this period of refugee policy as an ideal model” because refugees were selected based on migration suitability as opposed to humanitarian reasons.