The Life And Times of Malcolm Fraser

The Life And Times of Malcolm Fraser

64 mins, 2004

The Life & Times of Malcolm Fraser is a documentary about John Malcolm Fraser, Prime Minister of Australia from November 11 1975 to March 11 1983. Fraser is central to the controversial events leading up to the 1975 dismissal by Governor-General Sir John Kerr of the messianic Gough Whitlam and his reformist Labor Government.

Fraser, the politician, was perceived as arrogant, elitist and unscrupulous – an ‘enemy of the people’ for having underhandedly brought down the first Labor Government in twenty-three years. Today public perception of Malcolm Fraser is very different – past enemies embrace his humility, and ‘radical’ stand on reconciliation, asylum seekers and globalisation. Fraser has become ‘a man of the people’, a champion of the disenfranchised. A popular belief is that Fraser has mellowed with time, re-invented himself as a humanist, and redeemed himself of his past wrongs.

Fraser claims he hasn’t changed: ‘the sharp, right wing, conservative reputation I had in my early public life has dissipated over time, but it was never accurate. Throughout my political life I have had a constant view of many social issues. Discrimination, or worse, racism has always appalled me. Claims that I have moved to the ‘left’ should be seen against a world environment in which policy differences between socialists and conservatives have often disappeared, where the whole political spectrum has moved leagues to the right.’

 

The Life & Times of Malcolm Fraser will explore the evolution of Fraser as a man, and in the public perception. His early family life, education at Melbourne Grammar and Oxford, and tentative entry into politics will create a strong picture of the formation of a future Prime Minister. Fraser’s ruthless and bloody victories over John Gorton and Billy Snedden will give an idea of the formidable and complex opponent Gough Whitlam encountered in 1975. Fraser himself will recount the dramatic events of the ‘Loans Affair’ and the Dismissal in detail, for the first time in a documentary.

Fraser’s passion for social justice and world affairs has continued since his departure from politics. Fraser will attend a conference in Moscow, formerly the heartland of the enemy during the Cold War, to discuss the global implications of the Iraqi war and America’s ‘Go it alone’ policy. He will then visit his sister, Lorri Whiting, in Rome. Lorri, a rebel from early childhood, moved to Rome in the 1950’s to work as an artist. Fraser’s story and reflections, will document the changes that Australian society has undergone in recent times – changes that are redefining our identity as a nation, and our place in the world. It will also unravel the truth about Malcolm Fraser, the man and the myth, and in doing so draw a complex and intimate portrait of one of Australia’s most significant, controversial and enduring statesmen.

Awards & Festivals
2005 Australia Down Under Film Festival
2005 Atom Award Finalist