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Malcolm Fraser, Liberal prime minister between 1975 and 1983, passed away on Friday morning at the age of 84 after a brief illness. In a statement, Prime Minister Tony Abbott paid tribute to Fraser’s achievements in government, saying he:
… restored economically responsible government while recognising social change.
The Fraser government came to office after the constitutional crisis of 1975 triggered by the sacking of the Whitlam Labor government. In his time in office, Fraser oversaw the acceptance of southeast Asian refugees and the emergence of a multicultural Australia, but environmental battles were a factor in his government’s defeat in 1983. He also led economic and social welfare reforms.
In his later years as an eminent public figure, Fraser grew distant from the Liberal Party, particularly over its asylum seeker policies. In 2010, he resigned his party membership, citing its shift to the right of politics.
The Conversation spoke to a number of experts to get a sense of Fraser’s achievements and legacies in key policy areas.