Multiculturalism and immigration

As is clear from the radio broadcasts and speeches listed below, Malcolm Fraser had a long and abiding support for multiculturalism in Australia, indeed even before the term became popular. As Opposition spokesperson for Labour and Immigration, Fraser released a paper in 1974 that referenced multiculturalism. Fraser was first able to initiate some change as Minister for Education and Science (1968-69 and 1971-71), in which he promoted the teaching of Asian languages. The Whitlam government was the first to implement multiculturalism, which the Fraser government continued and put into effect, ensuring that multiculturalism was a bi-partisan policy.

Fraser had almost always advocated for high levels of immigration. He believed that the government had a crucial role in practically supporting integration into Australian society and fostering acceptance of migrants among the broader population.

The end of the Vietnam War prompted an increase in refugees from South-East Asia and in 1977 Fraser appointed the Review of Post-Arrival Programs and Services to Migrants, which became known as the Galbally Report. It is widely seen as a turning-point in the history of multiculturalism, arguing that Australians had a right to maintain their culture and the government a responsibility to provide services and programs in order to ensure equality of opportunity. The adoption of recommendations led to an expansion of existing settlement services, including accommodation, orientation and language teaching. It also led to the establishment of the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS).

Following his retirement from parliament, Fraser continued to champion the rights of immigrants and refugees. The former became an increasingly important question as successive governments tightened border controls and implemented punitive measures against asylum seekers. For Fraser this, along with preferences to the One Nation Party, led to his resignation from the Liberal Party in 2009.


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.

Elsa Koleth, Multiculturalism: a review of Australian policy statements and recent debates in Australia and overseas, Research paper no. 6 2010-11, Social Policy Section, Australia Parliament House Library, 2010.

Image: Malcolm Fraser being congratulated by Jack Spitzer, International President of B'nai B'rith International, on being awarded the President's Gold Medal for Humanitarian Services, 1980. Photographer: Australian Information Service, 2005.0103.0025


Electorate correspondence (NAA M1274-1) 2005.0073

File 66, unit 8: Immigration (1): 1-12, 1957-1959

File 67, unit 8: Immigration (2): 13-24, 1959-1961

File 68, unit 8: Immigration (3): 25-34, 1961-1962

File 69, unit 8: Immigration (4): 35-47, 1962-1964

File 70, unit 9: Immigration (5): 48-60, 1963-1965

Political and personal correspondence, annual alphabetical series 2007.0005

File 4, unit 1: Correspondence ‘1976D’ [correspondence relating to transport for disabled persons, immigration, livestock export etc.], 19 May 1975-5 Nov 1975

File 5, unit 1: Correspondence ‘1976F’ [Correspondence relating to Commonwealth funding of cancer research, mini-bikes in Dandenong Valley Metropolitan Park (Vic), immigration, manufacturing industry etc.], 16 December 1974 -14 December 1975

File 7, unit 1: Correspondence ‘1976H’ [Relating to immigration, import tariffs, unionism, Australian Industry Development Corporation, Hancock Prospecting etc.], 25 April 1975-30 October 1975

File 15, unit 2: Correspondence ‘1976T’ [Relating to immigration, Australia Council, compensation claims following Tasman Bridge collapse etc], 7 October 1974 -10 November 1975

File 16, unit 2: Correspondence ‘1976V’ [correspondence relating to tariffs, Vietnamese refugees, Government policy on family reunion for Vietnamese students in Australia etc.], 19 Apr 1975-27 Oct 1975

File 17, unit 2: Correspondence ‘1976W’: [Relating to Narrabeen War Veterans Paramedical Centre, World Peace Council, wool marketing, wine and brandy industry, Vietnamese refugees etc.; includes letter from Prime Minister E. G. Whitlam regarding Australian Government’s policy on Vietnamese students.], 14 March 1975 -30 October 1975

Radio broadcasts and press releases

Men for Australia, radio electorate talk, 11 April 1954, 2007.0023.0306

Hungary, housing and was service land settlement, electorate radio talk, 29 September – 2 October 1957, 2007.0023.0363

Immigration, radio talk, 6 April 1958, 6 – 9 April 1958, 2007.0023.0381

The Brenner Case, press statement, 22 October 1961, 2007.0023.0064

Migrants and national service, press statement, 29 November 1964, 2007.0023.0191

Italy – Australia, press statement, 29 September 1967, 2007.0023.0524

Australians assist resettling of Vietnamese refugees, 19 February 1968, 2007.0023.0285

Migration, electorate radio talk, 17 November 1968, 2007.0023.0550

Rural reconstruction; immigration; industrial safety, electorate radio talk, 5 Dcember – 10 December 1970, 2007.0003.0011

Dairy farms; 35-hour week; Vietnamese refugees, electorate radio talk, 28 February – 4 March 1971, 2007.0003.0013

Aid to Pakistani refugees; nursing homes; CSIRO, electorate radio talk, 10 – 14 October 1971, 2005.0072.0012

China and the UN; wheat sales; Pakistani refugees, electorate radio talk, 31 October 1971, 2005.0072.0016

Immigration, press release, 13 August 1973, 2005.0072.0091

Review of 1973, press release, 17 December 1973, 2005.0072.0084

Vietnamese refugees, electorate radio talk, 13 April 1975, 2005.0072.0120

Labor government, immigration, electorate radio talk, 17 August – 21 August 1975, 2005.0072.0137

Publications and subject files

Senior Adviser’s Research Material, second series 2007.0014

File 39, unit 3: Immigration and ethnic affairs (12) - The Ethnic Press, [Publication 'From the Ethnic Press'; includes departmental brief relating to ethnic television, 30 November 1977 – 21 September 1978

File 40, unit 3: Immigration and ethnic affairs (14) Jewish community [published material], 6 Sep 1978-25 Apr 1979

File 41, unit 3: Immigration [published material] 10 Oct 1979

File 54, unit 4: Migrants – Greek Welfare Workers Group, 2 February 1979 – 6 February 1979

Senior Adviser’s Research Material, first series 2007.0013

File 114, unit 9: ‘Migrants’ [Reports relating to immigrant settlement and integration, overseas professional qualifications, multi-cultural society.], May 1974 – August 1974

File 115, unit 9: ‘Migrants’ [Reports relating to Conference of Ministers for Immigration, migrant education program 1974 1975 etc.], 25 March 1975 – February 1976

File 116, unit 19: ‘Migrant policy [includes papers relating to Ethnic Communities Council of NSW, Greek migrants, GRAPPLE (Group for Rational Advancement of Progressive Liberalism)], May 1975 – 19 November 1975

File 166, unit 13: Racial Discrimination Bill 1975 [schedule of amendments], 29 May 1975

Post-parliamentary speeches

Inaugural Address on Multiculturalism to the Institute of Multicultural Affairs - Institute of Multicultural Affairs in Melbourne, 30 November 1981

Australia in the Year 2020 - Ethnic Community Council of Victoria, 8 July 1999

What Kind of Australia? - Adelaide Festival of Ideas, 15 July 2001

Presentation of CARE International Humanitarian Award - 17 November 2001

Rerum Novarum Lecture - Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace, 17 July 2001

Sir Charles Court Oration - A Perspective From a Past Prime Minister, CPA Congress, 15 May 2002

Australians for Just Refugee Programs - Public Forum, Melbourne Town Hall, 22 May 2002

B'Nai B'Rith Anti-Defamation Commission - Multicultural Tolerance: The Truth About Lies, 26 May 2002

Launch of From nothing to zero: letters from refugees in Australia’s detention centres, – Lonely Planet, Melbourne, 6 May 2003

Who Matters? How Many? - Toorak, 21 June 2006

Who Matters? How Many? - 2006 Law and Justice Address, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Parliament House, Sydney, 31 October 2006

Australians: What are we? How do we see ourselves? How do others see us? - Commonwealth Lecture, Australian National University, 30 April 2007

Vietnamese TET Festival - Fairfield Showgrounds, Sydney, Saturday 5 February 2011

From White Australia to Today - Australian Refugee Association Oration, Adelaide, Friday 24 June 2011

Opening speech for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre - ASRC, Melbourne, 10 December 2014