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Fraser, John Malcolm (1930–)

Subject History

Place Australasia » Australia

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


Prime Minister of Australia (1975–83). A wealthy grazier, educated at Melbourne and Oxford universities, he became a Liberal member of parliament in 1955 and held various cabinet posts from 1966–72 in the Liberal and Country Party coalition government. He was regarded as an extreme right-winger when he became leader of the Liberal Party in 1975. His ruthlessness was evident in the tactics he used to topple the Labor government of Gough whitlam by refusing to pass the budget (the Liberal Party and its allies had a majority in the upper house, the Senate). He was aided by the unprecedented actions of the Governor-General Sir John Kerr, who dismissed Whitlam and called a general election, in which the Liberal and Country parties won the largest majority of seats of any government since federation. Accusations that he had obtained office by underhand means did not prevent him winning the elections of 1977 and 1980. He soon established a reputation for breaking promises, such as that he would maintain Medibank and wage indexation. Both were abolished in 1981: a free health service was then restricted to the poor, who qualified by a means test or as old-age pensioners. He claimed that the state of the economy required cuts in public spending but it was the poor and unemployed who had to bear the main burden, while farmers benefited by a restoration of the fertilizer subsidy removed ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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