• Portrait of Malcolm Fraser as Minister for the Army in 1966. Photographer: Australian Army Public Relations. Malcolm Fraser collection at the University of Melbourne Archives, UMA/I/6440

  • Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser on the day of his honorary doctorate award, with University Chancellor Elizabeth Alexander and Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis

The University of Melbourne community is saddened to hear of the passing of former Prime Minister The Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser AC CH earlier this morning.

Australia’s 22nd Prime Minister, Mr Fraser was a respected member of the University community, dating back to when his father studied at the University.

A Professorial Fellow at the Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law since 2006, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws in 2012 (speech and citation here), and was a frequent presence at Melbourne Law School.

The University of Melbourne Archives has been the official custodian of his personal papers since 2004, forming the Malcolm Fraser Collection at the University of Melbourne.  Over 120 metres of records have since been transferred to the Archives, spanning in scope from a copy of the Australian Constitution owned by his grandfather Sir Simon Fraser (a representative to the Australasian Federal Convention in 1897-98), through to papers relating to Mr Fraser’s advocacy of the rights of asylum seekers in recent years.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis paid tribute to Mr Fraser, saying his insightful contributions will be missed.  “From a controversial start, Prime Minister Fraser impressed many with an unwavering commitment to equal treatment of people, compassion for the displaced, and a vision for an inclusive Australia.”  

“As Malcolm argued so often, his views seemed the still centre while Australia shifted around him, too often losing sight of the vision of liberalism that guided Malcolm's actions in office and his constant advocacy later in private life.”

Dean of Melbourne Law School, Professor Carolyn Evans, spoke of the immense contribution he had made to Australian public life.

“Melbourne Law School is deeply saddened by the passing of Mr Fraser who leaves an enduring and profound legacy.  The legal reforms instituted by the Fraser government included the passage of significant laws from the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (NT) to Australia’s first Freedom of Information Act.”

“The Fraser government also established important and enduring legal institutions including the position of Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Human Rights Commission, and since leaving government, Mr Fraser has played a significant role in international affairs, particularly in the Commonwealth,” Professor Evans said.