John Howard sees silver lining after Malcolm Fraser’s death

The death of Malcolm Fraser and the memorial service in Melbourne last week allowed Australians to celebrate an ex-Prime Minister who became more popular and likeable over the decades. As an old-fashioned Liberal, economically dry but socially progressive, Fraser had encouraged the acceptance and settlement of Vietnamese refugees during his period of Prime Minister and government.

While Fraser subsequently and compellingly argued he was no more likeable, he was surrounded by people who became more difficult to like as his political party became increasingly conservative. “It was all relative really”, he observed as he blasted his former political party for its hostility to refugees and multiculturalism.

Former Prime Minister John Howard, who remains precisely the sort of person he was when he was thrown out by his own electorate at the same time as his government was ejected, has embraced the possibility that he can now become the only living Liberal ex-Prime Minister the people grow to like.

“Certainly, I’m no more likeable than I was. I fought multiculturalism, compulsory superannuation, industry superannuation funds, I liked the idea of claiming babies have been thrown into the water by refugees trying to get into Australia, I followed the US and Britain into Iraq based on weapons of mass destruction that never existed and I never apologised for anything and I would never apologise to our own stolen generations.”

“But now, my time has come.”

Polling conducted by Fairfax Media and published this morning found 78% thought this unlikely. A further 17% thought this very unlikely.

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