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Vale Malcolm Fraser: a giant and a visionary

By Craig Laundy - posted Thursday, 2 April 2015

The sad passing of Malcolm Fraser has provided an opportunity for much reflection and soul searching in Australian politics this past week.

There is no doubt he was a giant of a man, who over the course of his life had been both celebrated and criticised by almost the entire breadth of the political spectrum.

The Prime Minister summed up the mood in Parliament this week in his condolence motion when he stated "Our challenge is not to say goodbye; it is to be more magnanimous in his death than we were in his life and to acknowledge this giant, who was surely one of us."


Many tributes and memorial speeches have been written since Fraser's passing, and most have covered the highlights of his career more eloquently than I could hope to.

What I would like to see become the focus of the discussion going forward, and what I hope to start in this article, is how we might emulate Fraser's vision for this country in the future.

To put my position most clearly, let me state that on the matters of human rights, multiculturalism, racial equality, racial discrimination, and asylum seekers, I stand with Malcolm Fraser.

I am proud to be part of the modern day broad church they call the Liberal Party - a dichotomy of staunchly conservative economic principles, and for me a strong sense of social justice resulting from my Christian beliefs and upbringing.

That's certainly not to say that I agree with everything Fraser has ever stated on the above topics, but the beliefs he stood for are ones that I hope will play a more central role in our thinking into the future, for the benefit of both the Liberal Party and Australia.

In 1977, the Fraser Government adopted a formal policy for "a humanitarian commitment to admit refugees for resettlement," resulting in one of the most generous per capita humanitarian intake programs in the world and nearly 50,000 Vietnamese refugees being welcomed to our shores by 1979.


The economic and cultural benefits of his embrace of immigration, humanitarianism, and multiculturalism are still being seen today, nearly 40 years on. I strongly believe the same benefits would be seen in another 40 years, with a more ambitious policy in this area.

I mention 40 years, as the 2015 Intergenerational Report (IGR) has just recently been released. The IGR is a social compact between the generations. What it aims to do, is raise our minds from the immediate political cycle, and look down the road to see how Treasury projects the country may look in four decades.

It's interesting to note that in this report, net migration is forecast at 215,000 per annum. As part of that figure, our current Humanitarian Programme covers just 13,750 of those places. The government has recently announced an increase of a further 7,500 places over the next 4 years taking the annual total to 18,750.

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About the Author

Craig Laundy is the federal member for Reid.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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