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Malcolm Fraser did not change, the Liberals took a short turn to right

Julian Burside writes in The Guardian (20.3.15):

‘Mlcolm Fraser often lamented the decline of Australian politics. After Tony Abbott assumed leadership of the Liberal party, Fraser resigned his membership. He was actively interested in the emergence of a new party based on small l liberal values – something which the self-styled capital L Liberal party has abandoned.

‘He was generally economical and astute in his observations. In about 2004, he and I were speaking on the same platform at a writers’ festival. I was asked to speak first.  I ended my comments by observing that my most fervent wish was that the next Labor Prime Minister of Australia would be … Malcolm Fraser. It got a predictable laugh. Malcolm then went to the podium and thanked me for what I had said, but added: “Of course, it will never happen. I’m too far to the left for them”.

‘It’s a comment which was unquestionably accurate, and which explains a great deal. Today’s self-styled conservatives argue that Fraser shifted to the left. I do not think his political position changed very much since 1975. Certainly his position on human rights never changed. 

‘But if Fraser’s position did not change much since 1975, Australia’s position certainly has: Australian politics has shifted so far to the right that Fraser ultimately became a hero of the self-styled left and a pariah among the self-styled Liberals.’

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