Former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, has died at age 84 after suffering from a brief illness.

He was the 22nd Prime Minister of Australia, leading the country from 1975 to 1983.

Tony Abbott said that Malcolm Fraser “welcomed the re-settlement of tens of thousands of Vietnamese people in Australia who have subsequently added a rich, new dimension to our national life”.

Julia Gillard commented that, “Malcolm will always be remembered kindly for his commitment to multiculturalism and his specific actions to resettle Vietnamese boat people in Australia.”

Paul Keating wrote, “The death of Malcolm Fraser underwrites a great loss to Australia.

“Notwithstanding a controversial Prime Ministership, in later years he harboured one abiding and important idea about Australia – its need and its right to be a strategically independent country. He detested what he saw as our strategic subservience to the United States and our willingness to be easily led from the path of a truly independent foreign policy.

“His public life also enshrined other important principles: no truck with race or colour and no tolerance for whispered notions of exclusivity tinged by race.”

John Howard noted that that the passing of Fraser, together with the passing of Gough Whitlam last year, signifies “the end of an era”.

Flags in Australia will be flown at half mast today.

[Photo credit: Sydney Morning Herald]

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