Image: Fraser with Carter. From Wikipedia. Like two peas in a pod.
If Australians had to find a PM to equate to Obama, Malcolm Fraser would be a natural. He would probably be flattered by the comparison, as ideologically they are very similar. The trouble was that he led the conservative Liberal Party. These days he is mainly remembered as a constant critic of every Liberal leader since he lost power, losing his trousers in a seedy Memphis hotel, and being the ‘principal architect’ in the installation of Mugabe as Zimbabwean leader.
Mal has become well known over the years for his disparaging ‘recollections’ of prominent Liberal Party members that seem never to have happened. It appears that his memoirs follow the same path. A review of them appears in today’s “Australian,” which is actually scathing, and deservedly so:
MALCOLM Fraser's memoirs, co-authored with Margaret Simons, are the most error-riddled, factually unreliable, tendentious, consistently nasty and overall disgraceful political memoirs I have ever read. Naturally they won the NSW Premier's Literary Award.
This infamous award demonstrates why the Premier's Literary Awards should be abolished. In their nonfiction section, at least, they are not about literature but promoting ideological conformity.
Fraser was prime minister from 1975 to 1983. In office, he had the reputation of being an arrogant, right-wing bully. Later, he decided to reshape himself as a grand man of the Left.
I don't doubt his motives, though it is noteworthy that you get a lot more comfort, certainly more awards, on the Left.
Fraser now has the attraction for the Left of any radical convert. Metaphorically, he has crossed the Berlin Wall, except he went from West to East. The Left is constantly surprised that it dominates the culture in Australia but is repeatedly rejected by voters. In truth, it dominates the culture only because of its stranglehold on taxpayers' funds, such as these awards. John Howard's memoir - the bestselling political autobiography in our history - is truly popular. It will be fascinating to see if it wins any of these wretchedly compromised awards. Fraser's visceral hatred of Howard and his relentless denigration of him, often with highly dubious stories, along with Fraser's support of free entry for the boatpeople, more than anything else endear him to the Left.
Fraser's book contains some astounding factual errors. Two among many that Gerard Henderson has pointed out are that Fraser cannot even remember how many elections he won, claiming four, when in fact he won three. Fraser also claims George Orwell's book Nineteen Eighty-Four was inspired by British society of the 1950s whereas it was a satire of East European communist dictatorships. Henderson might have pointed out further that as Orwell died in January 1950 and Nineteen Eighty-Four was published two years before that, he couldn't have been inspired by much in the 50s. …..
… An even more bizarre claim Fraser makes, in rationalising his support for the Vietnam War, is that he did not know until 1995 of the US involvement in the coup against South Vietnam's president Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963.
Fraser was Australia's defence minister at the end of the 60s. If he didn't know about the US involvement he was surely the worst informed defence minister in the history of this country or any other.
The US involvement was absolutely common knowledge, a routine part of any discussion of Vietnam in those days. Morris West, Australia's bestselling author at that time, wrote a novel about the American role in the coup, The Ambassador, which sold more than a million copies. …
… His scabrous slanders of Howard, the worst based only on his memory and backed up by no corroborating testimony or documentation, reveal a nastiness of spirit remarkable even in the ego-mad world of Australian politics. This shameful book deserves no awards.Well worth reading.