State funeral held for former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser in Melbourne

Friday, March 27, 2015

Fraser was the Prime Minister of Australia from 1975 to 1983

The state funeral for Malcolm Fraser, the former Prime Minister of Australia, was held in Melbourne on Friday. Fraser died last week at the age of 84 after a short illness. Hundreds of people attending the funeral, held Scots' Church, including the current Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott. The church, which seats 700, placed 1,000 chairs in the street outside for members of the public could join the family in remembering Fraser.

Fraser was Prime Minister from 1975 until 1983. He came to office after Gough Whitlam was sacked by Sir John Kerr, the Governor-General, becoming the only ever Australian Prime Minister to be dismissed from office. After initially being selected as caretaker leader, Fraser won the following three general elections. He was also the leader of the Liberal Party. Fraser died only five months after his predecessor, Whitlam.

Paying tribute to Fraser was Peter Nixon, a minister in Fraser's cabinet. In a eulogy he spoke about the contest between Fraser and Whitlam, he said "The fact that Gough and Malcolm, who were the leaders in the toughest political contest in the nation's history, came to respect and like each other demonstrates what big men they were." He also said that Australia had "lost a unique and great Australian".

Also in attendance among family were former Australian leaders Julia Gillard, John Howard and Paul Keating. Former Prime Minister's Kevin Rudd and Bob Hawke were unable to attend the funeral with Rudd sending his youngest son on his behalf. The five former leaders all attended Whitlam's state funeral in November of last year.

A keen supporter of human rights, Fraser introduced a law that saw Indigenous Australians regain land in the northern territory. Outside the church was a large gathering of Vietnamese Australians paying tribute to the former Prime Minister. They held banners paying tribute such as "Farewell to our champion of humanity." Fraser has welcomed Vietnamese immigrants to Australia during his term.

A private family service was held after the state funeral.