Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lili's sad thought of the day

Goodbye and thank you Malcolm Fraser. Even as a child I felt that I was looking at an essentially decent person when I saw the former Prime Minister of Australia on TV, even though at the time I was witnessing one of the most controversial events in Australian political history, The Dismissal, and Fraser was cast in the role of the villain, and one of the adults in my family was incandescent with rage. We probably watched the political coup in black and white, as we weren't wealthy enough to be early-adopters of the exciting new colour television technology. 

Even in grayscale, at a glance I understood what type of person Mr Fraser was; a serious, thinking man in the business of ruling, not entertaining or charming, but who has demonstrated throughout his life a willingness to stand beside those who were locked out of a place in society: the refugee and the victim of racism and racist govermnent policies. Fraser was the only Liberal Prime Minister of Australia in living memory to welcome refugees to this country, was a champion of multiculturalism (we can thank the Fraser Government for SBS), he opposed apartheid as a PM and in his later career, and right up the the end of his life he has been a unequivocal and outspoken critic of the cruel and racist refugee policies of Liberal and Labour governments in the 21st century. As a PM Fraser modified but retained the system of universal health insurance created by the previous Labour government, which has served Australia well for many years and is accepted as a normal part of Australian life. 

Now that I have learned something of Fraser's formative years from media coverage of his passing, it all makes sense to me. Many sources describe Fraser's rural childhood in a wealthy family as one spent alone among nature without peers but apparently his best friend was an Aboriginal girl. My faith in individuals of character in Australian politics, (not parties or policies), is always reaffirmed when I think of Malcolm Fraser, but I am constantly saddened that there are so few of these individuals in positions of leadership these days, in politics or elsewhere. 

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