1975 - 1983

The Fraser Government came to power with a mandate to restore Australia’s economy after the disastrous mismanagement of the Whitlam Labor government. The Fraser government began the historic turnaround from the ‘big government’ approach of Whitlam to an era of liberal reform.

Malcolm Fraser argued strongly for a more limited role for government in economic life, wound back government spending, and restrained union power, while promoting individual rights and opportunities.

The impact of the economic mismanagement of the Whitlam government was intensified by the fallout of the world oil shock, a prolonged record-breaking drought and unsettled world markets.

Despite the volatile economic environment, the Fraser Government made hard decisions to ensure Australia’s future was secure.

Some of the features of the Fraser era included:

  • Effective restraint of government spending

  • Major new assistance for families

  • The introduction of far-reaching reforms to strengthen the Federal system

  • Large scale investment and development projects, such as dams and roads

  • Strong legislation to limit union power and secondary boycotts

  • Major new developments in wages and industrial relations

  • A focus on assisting with employment schemes to encourage employment growth

  • Laws to stop ‘bottom-of-the-harbour’ tax evasion schemes

  • Greater flexibility in the management of the exchange rate

  • Better training and assistance to sportsmen and women to help them compete at a world level

  • Assistance to both large and small business through a series of government programs

  • Strengthening the right of parents to choose the best school for their child

  • Development of newly discovered mineral resources

  • A focus on conservation, the environment and the development of new national parks

  • Welcoming refugees from Vietnam after the communist takeover

  • Supporting more effective Western action to overcome the North-South divide between rich and poor countries

  • Strengthening Australia’s defence forces

  • A strong stand against Soviet expansion of its activities into the Pacific and its invasion of Afghanistan

Malcolm Fraser

Malcolm Fraser

Prime Minister from 11 November 1975 - 11 March 1983

Malcolm Fraser became Australia's 22nd prime minister when the Liberal Party won office, following the dismissal by the Governor-General of the Labor government led by Gough Whitlam.

Malcolm Fraser was an economic traditionalist and a social reformer, particularly in the areas of immigration and multiculturalism. He believed in order, and proper process, and mastered collective responsibility and the machinery of government. 

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