Conservation and the Environment

Malcolm Fraser’s government advanced some important environmental policies. He was an early supporter of conservation efforts and was a founding member (along with Sir Garfield Barwick) of the Australian Conservation Foundation in the mid-1960s.

The Fraser government legislated the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 and the Australian Heritage Commission Act 1975. The government also ended sand mining Fraser Island, declared the Kakadu National Park, prohibited oil exploration and drilling in the Great Barrier Reef.

In 1980 the Fraser government accepted the World Conservation Strategy, an initiative of the International union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the World Wildlife Fund and the United Nations Environment Programme and over 700 scientists. One of the recommendations of the Strategy was the development of National Conservation Strategies, which was completed in Australian in 1983. The Fraser government also signed onto the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the Ramsar Convention on wetlands, the Convention for Conservation on Antarctic Seals and the Japan-Australia Migratory Birds Agreement. They also initiated an inquiry leading to the banning of whaling in Australia.

Fraser refused to intervene to stop the  damming of the Franklin River because of his ideological commitment to state’s rights, also called cooperative federalism. He was also a supporter of uranium mining and export, although in later years he supporter international efforts at nuclear disarmament.

Malcolm Fraser and Tamie Fraser

Image: Malcolm Fraser and Tamie Fraser at Cooinda in the Kakadu National Park during an official visit to the Northern Territory, 1982. Photographer: Australian Information Service. 2005.0104.00047


Biography of Malcolm Fraser, written by Margaret Simons, in Elizabeth Masters and Katie Wood, Malcolm Fraser: Guide to archives of Australia's prime ministers, National Archives of Australia, 2010.

Malcolm Fraser and Margaret Simons, Malcolm Fraser: The political memoirs, The Miegunyah Press, 2010.

Fraser paved the way for a national environment policy,” The Conversation, 24 March 2015

Australian Conservation Foundation

Subject files maintained by J M (Malcolm) Fraser 2007.0023, File 19, unit 1: Australian Conservation Foundation [includes constitution, membership card], 9 Jul 1965-4 Jan 1967

Subject files maintained by J M (Malcolm) Fraser 2007.0023, File 39, unit 2: Conservation [relates to establishment of Australian Conservation Foundation, includes Training and education in conservation by E C F Bird], 28 Feb 1964-17 Feb 1966

Speech notes, addressed, articles and related papers 2007.0008, item 28, unit 3: Environment and conservation [papers relating to Australian Conservation Foundation, flora and fauna etc, includes Habitat magazine (vol. 1, no 2, September 1973) and Wildlife Conservation: Report from the House of Representatives Select Committee (October 1972)], Oct 1972-10 Apr 1974

Australian Conservation Foundation, radio electorate talk, 30 August 1964, 2007.0023.0177

Wheat Industry Plans”, radio electorate talk, 11 May 1969, 2007.0023.0561

Conservation and kangaroos, radio electorate talk, 29 November - 2 December 1971, 2005.0072.0020

Individualism and government, radio electorate talk, 29 June – 3 July 1975, 2007.0003.0022

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

World Heritage Committee meeting, conservation, Radio electorate talk, 1 November 1981, 2005.0072.0157

Wheat Industry Plans”, radio electorate talk, 11 May 1969, 2007.0023.0561

National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Bill 1974

Correspondence between J M (Malcolm) Fraser as Leader of the Opposition and members of his Shadow Ministry 2006.0022, File 40, unit 2: Snedden Shadow Cabinet - Meetings, July-October 1974 [agenda, papers relating to economic conditions, Statute Law Revision Act, joint sittings, National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Bill 1974, Tasmanian industries, Opposition Parliamentary committees], 13 Dec 1973-29 Oct 1974


Subject files maintained by J M (Malcolm) Fraser as Leader of the Opposition 2006.0024, File 20, unit 2: Fraser Island [sandmining and effect on Opposition environmental policy], 6 Mar l975-4 Nov l975


General correspondence maintained as Leader of the Opposition, 2006.0015,first series File 17, unit 3: Correspondence F [C Face-W F and N W Flynn, includes representations from Federated Clerks Union relating to uranium ban, Festival of Light (Victoria) relating to Family Law Bill 1974, newspaper cuttings], 18 Nov 1974-20 Aug 1975

Northern Territory, radio electorate talk, 14 June 1959, 2007.0023.0424

Energy policy – uranium, radio electorate talk, 27 October 1974, 2005.0072.0104

Labor Party’s uranium policy, radio electorate talk, 18 July 1982, 2005.0072.0179

Speech notes, addresses, articles and related papers 2007.0008, Item 55, unit 5: Press Conference (Canberra), 20 May 1975 [relating to Family Law Bill, age pension, export, uranium mining etc.], 20 May 1975

Whales and whaling

Subject files maintained by J M (Malcolm) Fraser as Leader of the Opposition 2006.0024, Item 41, unit 2: Whaling, 23 Aug l973-5 Jun l975

Ministerial statement on whales and whaling, 4 April 1979

Other and general

A vision of Australia, radio electorate talk, 24 January 1954, 2007.0023.0295

Mining, radio electorate talk, 12 – 15 May 1957, 2007.0023.0342

Drought, radio electorate talk, 19 September 1965, 2007.0023.0214

Conservation of our flora and fauna, radio electorate talk, 26 September – 1 October 1970, 2007.0003.0001

Conservation and kangaroos, radio electorate talk, 29 November - 2 December 1971, 2005.0072.0020

Conservation, radio electorate talk, 18 June – 22 June 1972, 2005.0072.0041

Conservation and pollution, radio electorate talk, 30 July – 2 August 1972, 2005.0072.0047

Victorian election, Land Conservation Council, radio electorate talk, 6 May 1973, 2005.0072.0073

Thursday Island Turtle Farm, press release, 14 October 1973

River Murray waters agreement, radio electorate talk, 20 October 1981, 2005.0072.0155

Minerals and natural gas, radio electorate talk, 28 April 1967, 2007.0023.0510