(21 May 1930 – 20 March 2015)
Fraser is a rather opaque figure. Not warm, not particularly consistent, diffident in personal and political relationships, and for all his aloofness and well-heeled background as the squire of Nareen, he was rather a mushy ‘wet’. He actually stood up for the downtrodden and appeared to mean it, both as Prime Minister (1975-1983) and afterwards, often when it was unfashionable, such as with African poverty and apartheid, Vietnamese boat people, and aboriginal land rights. He formally broke with the Liberal Party around 2009 but had been a thorn in its side for years before. He will inevitably be paired historically with his great adversary of 1975, Gough Whitlam, when his nerves of steel calmed a troubled electorate (and tamed a troubled Governor-General). Yet his legacy is unclear; perhaps he and Whitlam were the bridge to the nouveau rationalists, such as Hawke/Keating and Howard/Costello. (By the way, TVC recommends against a close reading of his memoirs (2010): trite, dull and full of howlers).