Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Malcolm Fraser was unflinching in his support of Indigenous Australians

Malcolm Fraser was a figure well regarded in Indigenous Australia. He was a vocal opponent of the intervention and helped those living under its policies to voice their concerns
Larissa Behrendt The Guardian March 23, 2015

‘Malcolm Fraser’s concern for the marginalised ... is shown by his commitment to issues concerning refugees, the environment and Aboriginal people.’ Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images
Shakespeare was wrong when he wrote in Julius Caesar that, ‘the evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones’. It seems that with the passing of Australian political giants Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser that it is the good that lives on while the faults are laid to rest………
Based on the last two decades of his life, it is almost hard to imagine that Fraser was not only a conservative prime minister, but in many ways the forerunner of the brutal ‘take no prisoners’ opposition leader that Tony Abbott subsequently mastered. My experience of Fraser was of a tireless advocate of human rights and a figure well regarded in Aboriginal Australia.
It was Fraser’s government that followed through on the Whitlam proposal to establish a land rights regime in the Northern Territory, through the enactment of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976……..
………..Fraser was unquestionably a champion of a multicultural Australia. Initiatives such as the establishment of SBS and his willingness to accept the flood of refugees flowing after the victory of the communists in the Vietnam war stamp him out as a beacon of enlightenment given the developments in subsequent decades. Also, his willingness on the international stage to advocate strongly against the apartheid regimes in then Rhodesia and South Africa………
His government also took some important measures in terms of the protection of the Australian environment…………….
He was, however, as we all are, a product of his times. As a member of the Holt, Gordon, and McMahon governments he was a prominent and vocal advocate for Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam war. Also, as prime minister, his government effectively destroyed the introduction of universal healthcare by the Whitlam government. It would take the Hawke government to finally install Medicare as the permanent replacement of Medibank……….
And while his environmental credentials on the Barrier Reef and Kakadu national park are to be lauded, it should also be remembered that he failed to take action to protect the Tasmanian wild rivers and it would seem that, if he had have triumphed in the 1983 election, would have allowed the construction of the Franklin Dam, and its destruction of a unique area of World Heritage value in Tasmania………..
He was a thoughtful opponent of the Northern Territory emergency response, joining Alastair Nicholson in his concern…………….
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