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Research Guides


Malcolm Fraser: Guide to Archives of Australia's Prime Ministers


Chapter 3: Records about Malcolm Fraser in the University of Melbourne Archives

Opposition and the Dismissal

When the Liberal government lost office in December 1972 it was the first time that Malcolm Fraser would experience life in Opposition after 17 years in Parliament. Following the defeat, Fraser was appointed Shadow Minister for Primary Industry, then Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations in August the following year.

The Australian Labor Party won office again in 1974, prompting Fraser to begin outlining his vision of a strong opposition. He challenged successfully for the Liberal leadership in March 1975, defeating Billy Snedden and precipitating one of the most dramatic years in Australian parliamentary politics. The Whitlam government was plagued by a number of scandals, the most prominent being the Loans Affair. In October the Shadow Cabinet decided to block supply in the Senate, attempting to force Gough Whitlam to an early election. This culminated in the dismissal of Whitlam by the Governor-General Sir John Kerr and a subsequent election in December, in which Fraser was elected by a landslide.

Records

MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series contains electorate talks and press releases by Fraser as Member for Wannon, from his time as Minister for Education and Science through to the later years of his prime ministership. Fraser began regular radio talks early and continued them throughout his parliamentary career. He used them to cover many topics, not simply electorate issues, and as such they represent an invaluable source on the development of his political opinion.
Series: 2005.0072
Quantity: 0.54 metres
Material for radio talks as Member for Wannon, 1973–74
Includes the first radio talk as Leader of the Opposition (4 and 5 April 1973). Topics covered include rural reconstruction, the 35-hour week and wage increases under the Labor government.
item 7, box 2
Radio broadcasts, 1974
Contains radio broadcasts and electoral statements.
item 8, box 2
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series contains material relating to the Whitlam government's proposed legislation to establish an Australian Government Insurance Office and amend the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme. This Bill was introduced into the House of Representatives in April 1975 but lapsed in August in the Senate. There was considerable pressure from the Liberal Party and other sections of society against the proposal.
Series: 2006.0011
Quantity: 0.53 metres
Insurance and Whitlam, 27 April – 27 May 1975
Includes letters to Fraser from the public and organisations opposing the Whitlam government's insurance changes, and some replies.
item 1, box 1
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series consists of personal correspondence maintained by Fraser from late 1971 to 1973 mostly as Opposition spokesperson on rural matters.
Series: 2006.0012
Quantity: 0.17 metres
Correspondence as rural spokesman, 1971–73
Includes correspondence between Fraser and representatives of rural organisations, including president of the Australian Farmers' Federation, Mr Hogan, on the establishment of a rural policy committee under Fraser's chairmanship; also contains rural groups' responses to a statement from Fraser about the Whitlam government's proposed protection commission.
item 3, box 1
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series consists of subject files maintained by Fraser during his time as Opposition spokesperson on labour matters, mainly covering the period August 1973 to March 1975. Fraser was outspoken in this position, during which time the Liberal Party developed its industrial relations policy. The series also contains files on the Australian Council of Trade Unions and Bob Hawke, the Builders Labourers' Federation and green bans, conciliation and arbitration, and the maritime industry.
Series: 2006.0014
Quantity: 2 metres
Industrial relations, 1974
Includes notes, correspondence and background reports on the Liberal Party's industrial relations platform; also includes correspondence from the managers of BHP and Rio Tinto, as well as Fraser's own notes on the subject.
items 68–69, box 8
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series consists of press releases and other material maintained by Fraser during his time as Minister for Defence, in Opposition and as Prime Minister.
Series: 2007.0003
Press statements, 7 January – 23 December 1973
Includes press statements as Opposition spokesperson on primary industry, labour and immigration.
item 11, box 1
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series contains correspondence primarily relating to representations from Fraser's constituents, but also members of the broader public. Most of the material dates from Fraser's time as Prime Minister, but there is earlier material. A huge range of topics are covered, including Medibank, housing, Rhodesia, Afghanistan, conservation, land rights, boycott of the Moscow Olympics, and the national anthem and flag. The series reflects public opinion and debates, and contains both the original correspondence and Fraser's reply.
Series: 2007.0005
Quantity: 0.26 metres
Correspondence 1976V, 19 April – 27 October 1975
Includes correspondence from the public and constituents relating to Vietnamese refugees, especially on the policy of family reunions for Vietnamese students already in Australia; contains correspondence between Fraser and Whitlam on the issue.
item 1976V part 1, box 2
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series consists of Fraser's speech notes, articles and related papers from early 1972 through to early 1983. The speeches were given to various bodies and cover a wide range of subjects. The files are arranged in chronological order and occasionally contain transcripts of interviews, journal articles and other types of material.
Series: 2007.0008
Quantity: 1 metre
Immigration, 1973–74
Includes speech notes, policy statements and other papers on immigration reforms.
item 70, box 3
Press speech notes on rural industry, 14 February – 22 April 1974
Includes speech notes on the rural industry and a press statement on attendance at a rural protest meeting in Warrnambool against Whitlam.
item 71, box 3
'Hallmarks of liberalism', Queensland State Liberals, 1975
Contains a speech titled 'Opportunity and concern: the hallmarks of liberalism', delivered at the Queensland State Liberal conference in Townsville.
item 86, box 4
Press conference (Canberra), 20 May 1975
Includes speech notes relating to uranium mining, the age pension and the Family Law Bill.
item 99, box 5
Reply to the Budget, 26 August 1975
Contains Fraser's reply to the 1975 Budget, including the final draft as well as handwritten notes.
item 144, box 6
Speech notes, August 1975
Includes Fraser's first speech as Opposition leader. The speech contains a statement that the Liberals will not oppose funds for Medicare and that the Senate should 'primarily be a house of review', and covers issues of philosophy and the future role of Snedden.
item 146, box 6
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series consists of general correspondence maintained by Fraser during his time as Leader of the Opposition. The correspondence includes representations from companies, small businesses, professional associations, church and other community organisations, and the related replies. Some personal letters from friends and colleagues are also included. They cover a wide range of subjects, in particular the Whitlam government.
Series: 2006.0015
Quantity: 1 metre
Correspondence 'U', 11 March – 8 July 1975
Contains correspondence from Sir Zelman Cowen (then Vice-chancellor of Queensland University) congratulating Fraser on the Liberal leadership and includes the text of a speech Cowen gave on 'Problems facing the Australian Government' (4 May 1975).
ítem 22, box 8
Correspondence 'M', 23 August – 15 October 1975
Includes correspondence from the Master Builders' Association containing newsletters relating to the industrial situation in 1975.
item 14 part 1, box 6
Correspondence 'C', 18 June – 19 August 1975
Includes correspondence from Professor Manning Clark (30 July 1975) congratulating Fraser on the Liberal leadership and describing him as a 'man who CARES'.
item 3 part 2, box 2
Correspondence 'R', 21–22 August 1975
Includes correspondence from Roy Morgan of the Gallup Poll, describing Fraser as the 'right man in the right place … [who] will soon become a great Prime Minister,' and suggesting means to keep in touch.
item 19 part 2, box 7
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series comprises miscellaneous correspondence maintained by Fraser during his second term as Minister for Education and Science, and ceases shortly before he became Leader of the Opposition. It covers a range of subjects including the Little Red Schoolbook, the Protection Commission, education and abortion. Some of the correspondence is more personal, for instance the file of correspondence with his sister Mrs B Whiting.
Series: 2006.0017
Quantity: 1 metre
Abortion – Right to Life Association, 29 March – 19 April 1973
Contains correspondence from individual members of the Right to Life Association and Fraser's standard reply to such correspondence, opposing the Private Members' Bill that would decriminalise abortion.
item 2, box 1
Mr Fraser – personal correspondence, 1944–74
Includes correspondence from Victorian MLA Ian Smith to Senator Don Jessop seeking support for Fraser's leadership bid (20 November 1974).
item 25 part 1, box 4
Miscellaneous correspondence 'K', 1972–75
Includes correspondence from Sir John Kerr, including a letter reminiscing about the time they worked together on the services pay inquiry (3 February 1974).
item 33 part 1, box 4
Correspondence as rural spokesman (re Protection Commission), 15 March – 21 May 1973
Includes correspondence between Fraser and the Australian Farmers' Federation relating to the Protection Commission.
item 45 part 1, box 6
Mrs BR Whiting, 1970–73
Includes correspondence from Fraser's sister Lorraine (nee Fraser), mostly relating to family and property matters, but also contains some interesting comments about the political situation.
item 52, box 7
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series contains material relating to the election of Fraser to the leadership of the Liberal Party and Opposition, the Bass by-election (June 1975), and Opposition strategy to bring about an early election. Much of this series consists of letters of support or protest relating to the blocking of supply. The items listed below are particular examples of larger groups of records of a similar nature.
Series: 2006.0013
Quantity: 0.70 metres
Congratulations (leadership), 18 March – 23 April 1975
Contains correspondence from the public, colleagues and important figures congratulating Fraser on the successful leadership challenge; includes a letter from Kerry Packer containing an offer of support and expressing a wish that Fraser become Prime Minister in the 'not too distant future'.
item 10, box 2
Letters of support (relating to political crisis), 14 October – 13 November 1975
Includes correspondence from the public, colleagues and important figures supporting Fraser's stand against the Whitlam government.
item 15 part 1, box 3
Letters of protest (relating to political crisis), 8 October – 24 November 1975
Includes correspondence from the public and organisations opposing Fraser's stand against the Whitlam government.
item 21, box 4
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This small series comprises correspondence between Fraser, Whitlam and members of the Whitlam Cabinet on various matters including the Budget, the state of the economy and public service superannuation. The files also contain speeches and articles about the minister in question.
Series: 2006.0019
Quantity: 0.09 metres
Senator the Hon KS Wriedt, 1975
Contains correspondence between Fraser and the Minister for Agriculture KS Wriedt regarding a proposed debate on rural policy, initially to be held in April or May 1975.
item 9, box 1
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series contains correspondence with members of the Opposition during Fraser's time as Leader of the Opposition. The papers relate to the political situation, but also other issues such as defence policy, the public service and economic policy.
Series: 2006.0020
Quantity: 0.17 metres
'D', 22 April – 17 November 1975
Includes correspondence with South Australian Senator Gordon Davidson relating to concern over public pressure on the question of blocking supply.
item 3, box 1
'M', 21 January 1974 – 12 December 1975
Includes interesting correspondence from MHR Ian Macphee (2 November 1975), outlining his thoughts on the forcing of an early election.
item 12, box 1
'W', 27 March – 27 October 1975
Includes correspondence from WC Wentworth following his canvassing of various people regarding Opposition tactics. Responses are broken down into groups such as merchant bankers, industrialists, real estate agents, small shopkeepers and people in the street.
item 17, box 1
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series consists of questions on notice asked by the Opposition in the House of Representatives during the months prior to the Dismissal. The items are arranged according to the Whitlam ministry to which the questions were addressed.
Series: 2006.0021
Quantity: 0.26 metres
Prime Minister, 9 April – 4 November 1975
Includes questions on notice in the House of Representatives from Opposition MPs to Whitlam in the lead-up to the Dismissal.
item 19, box 1
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series contains correspondence between Fraser as Leader of the Opposition and members of his Shadow Ministry, as well as Shadow Cabinet and joint party meeting papers in the lead-up to the Dismissal. Along with correspondence and papers about the political situation, a range of other subjects are covered including rural matters, social welfare, conservation and defence.
Series: 2006.0022
Quantity: 0.70 metres
Rt Hon JD Anthony, Leader of the Australian Country Party, 19 February – 8 October 1975
Contains correspondence between Fraser and Doug Anthony, Leader of the Country Party and Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Matters include crude oil pricing and others relating to his shadow portfolio of Trade, Resources and Decentralised Development. The correspondence provides a sense of the working relationship between the two leaders.
item 2, box 1
Snedden Shadow Cabinet – meetings, 1973–74
Includes material relating to the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Bill (1974).
item 40, box 2
Federal Campaign Committee, 1975
Includes drafts of the want of confidence motion against Whitlam put to Parliament on 23 October, and Opposition policy drafts on consumer affairs and trade practices, Aboriginal affairs, science and technology, and foreign investment.
item 14, box 1
Shadow Cabinet – meeting no. 24, 13 October 1975
Contains a draft statement on the decision to vote against the Appropriation Bills (13 October); also includes a record of the special Shadow Cabinet meeting to consider the blocking of the Budget on 15 October 1975. The minutes note: 'Mr Fraser put the question to all members of the Shadow Ministry. There was a unanimous decision to delay passage of the Appropriation Bills in order to force the Whitlam Govt to a general election. R Fraser went around the table, and all “ministers” indicated their support for the move.'
item 48, box 3
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series contains material relating to the Loans Affair from Fraser's time as Leader of the Opposition. Most of the material consists of news clippings, transcripts of interviews and copies of documents such as statutory declarations, affidavits and other background notes on the affair.
Series: 2006.0023
Quantity: 0.61 metres
Papers relating to the Loans Affair, 1973–75
Includes copies of the statutory declarations made by Tirath Khemlani on the Loans Affair, other statements, correspondence and questions on notice.
item 12, box 2
RFX Connor documents – spares, 1974–75
Contains general notes and speech notes created by Fraser about the Loans Affair.
item 20, box 4
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series consists of correspondence, reports and other papers maintained by Fraser during his time as Leader of the Opposition, in particular material relating to Coalition policy. Most of the correspondence is from colleagues, and covers subjects such as conservation, Medibank, the Family Law Bill, Soviet incorporation of the Baltic states and rural matters.
Series: 2006.0024
Quantity: 0.35 metres
Economy, 1974–75
Includes correspondence from BA Santamaria regarding tax indexation and its relation to wage indexation in the light of the impending Australian Council of Trade Unions Congress.
item 12, box 1
Dr JA Forbes, 24 March – 2 April 1975
Includes a resignation letter from Dr JA Forbes (a Snedden supporter).
item 18, box 2
Fraser Island, 5 February – 2 April 1975
Includes correspondence to and from Fraser regarding sand mining on Fraser Island, an early conservation issue; also includes material from the Fraser Island Defence Organisation asking 'where Fraser stands on Fraser?'.
item 20, box 2
Medibank, 22 March – 23 May 1975
Includes a Liberal statement on Medibank, and Fraser's replies to public correspondence outlining the Liberal Party's stance on the issue.
item 26, box 2
Sir Robert Menzies, 17 March – 22 October 1975
Includes correspondence, a press statement and telegrams from Menzies to Fraser. The press statement (21 October 1975) is Menzies' statement of support on blocking supply – a statement that Fraser had sought.
item 28, box 2
Correspondence with Mr Snedden, 25–28 March 1975
Includes correspondence relating to Fraser's offer of a position in the Shadow Cabinet as Minister for Federalism, Commonwealth–state relations, local government and tax sharing arrangements, and Snedden's rejection of the offer.
item 40, box 2
Whaling, 1973–75
Contains correspondence and papers relating to the Opposition's position on whaling.
item 45, box 2
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series contains two items – a transcript of a media conference and a transcript of an interview with Richard Carleton on the day that the Liberal Party voted to block supply. All other material from the original series extending into the period of Fraser's prime ministership has been retained by the National Archives.
Series: 2007.0011
Quantity: 0.08 metres
Interview with Richard Carleton, This Day Tonight, 15 October 1975
Includes a transcript of a lengthy interview conducted by Richard Carleton on the day that Shadow Cabinet voted to block supply.
item 3, box 1
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series largely consists of research material collated by Fraser's two senior advisers – David Kemp and Petro Georgiou – between March and December 1976, although there is some material outside that period. Material collected during Fraser's time as Prime Minister has been retained by the National Archives.
Series: 2007.0013
Quantity: 3 metres
Medibank, 25 March – 27 October 1975
Contains research material, including published and unpublished sources, on Medibank.
item 147 part 1, box 8
Vietnam 1975 – censure motion, 17 January – 13 May 1975
Includes background material, speech notes, correspondence and censure motion put by the Opposition over cables sent to Hanoi and Saigon by Whitlam.
item 241 part 2, box 16
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series consists of correspondence between Fraser and the Liberal Party, including the Executive, state divisions and branches. It covers the period March 1975 to December 1982.
Series: 2007.0016
Quantity: 0.35 metres
NSW branches, 1975
Contains correspondence to and from NSW branches, including varied views on the blocking of supply (see other branches for similar files).
item 14 part 1, box 1
Party organisation – Federal Director, 1975
Contains correspondence with the Federal Director and others relating to Liberal Party organisation; also includes a report on the establishment of Liberal clubs on campuses.
item 24, box 1
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series consists of correspondence and published material, largely from Fraser's time in Opposition. Most files deal with the development of Liberal Party policy in Opposition.
Series: 2007.0019
Quantity: 7 metres
1974–75 Budget, 1974–75
Includes a memo from Garland to Snedden (24 January 1975) outlining arguments for, and ways and consequences of, blocking supply.
item 43, box 3
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series contains material that was housed in Fraser's office and covers a whole range of subjects from university notes and documents relating to the Dismissal, to CARE Australia files from the 2000s.
Series: 2010.0013
Quantity: 9 metres
Correspondence with Bill Stack, 1973–75
Contains correspondence from Bill Stack relating to the defeat of William McMahon.
item 1/21, box 1
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series is related to 2006.0022, and contains correspondence between Fraser as Leader of the Opposition and members of the Shadow Ministry, as well as Shadow Cabinet and joint party meeting papers in the lead-up to the Dismissal. Along with correspondence and papers about the political situation, a range of other subjects are covered including rural matters, social welfare, conservation and defence matters.
Series: 2006.0022
Quantity: 0.17 metres
Hon DJ Killen, 1975
Includes correspondence relating to the question of blocking supply and other matters.
item 23, box 5
Shadow Ministry meetings, 9–12 November 1975
Includes joint party meeting minutes from 10.30am, 11 November 1975. The notes from the item on the political situation state: 'Fraser: Government may bring on censure motion today but be ready for questions – asked parties not to press him further on current events.'
item 52, box 5
MALCOLM FRASER COLLECTION
This series is related to 2007.0013 and consists of research material collated by Fraser's two senior advisers – David Kemp and Petro Georgiou – between March and December 1976, although there is some material outside that period.
Series: 2007.0013
Quantity: 0.34 metres
Migrant policy, 1975
Includes papers relating to the Ethnic Communities Council of New South Wales, Group for Rational Advancement of Progressive Liberalism, and Greek migrants; also includes the Liberal Party's immigration and ethnic affairs policy from August 1975.
item 152, box 19

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Chapter 3
Records about Malcolm Fraser in the University of Melbourne Archives