Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Fraser, Alexander John (1892–1965)

by L. H. S. Thompson

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

Alexander John Fraser (1892-1965), by unknown photographer, c1946

Alexander John Fraser (1892-1965), by unknown photographer, c1946

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an23389555

Alexander John Fraser (1892-1965), politician, was born on 22 August 1892 at Fairfield, Melbourne, third child of Simon Fraser, constable, and his wife Jane, née McLennan, both Scottish born. As a youth, Alex was of robust build and excelled at sport; on leaving Kyneton College, he played Australian Rules football for the Melbourne club. On 12 July 1915 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. Commissioned in March 1916 and posted to the 10th Machine-Gun Company, Fraser reached the Western Front in November. In the battle of Messines, Belgium, on 7 June 1917 he rushed forward alone, and, although seriously wounded, continued to fire on the enemy; he was awarded the Military Cross. Invalided home in early 1918, he left the A.I.F. on 30 April, but briefly resumed his appointment from October that year to January 1919.

At St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Kyneton, on 15 March 1919 Fraser married Ivy Elizabeth Hume (d.1928). On 12 January 1929 at Scots Church, Melbourne, he married Catherine Boyd (d.1953). He became involved in the development of the dairy industry in Gippsland, first as manager of the produce department of the Gippsland and Northern Co-operative Co. Ltd, then as London organizer (1927-28) for the Australian Producers' Wholesale Co-operative Federation, and finally as general manager (1929-37) of the Great Southern Co-operative Co. Ltd. He was also president of the Dairy Factory Managers' Association and a director (1930-37) of the Australian Sunny South Service Co. Pty Ltd. In 1937-46 Fraser was chairman of the Victorian Transport Regulation Board and during World War II concurrently chaired the State Liquid Fuel Control Board.

In May 1946, while secretary (1946-48) of the United Country Party, Fraser was appointed to the Senate by the Victorian parliament to fill the casual vacancy caused by the death of R. V. Keane. Defeated in the Federal elections in September that year, Fraser joined the Liberal and Country Party in 1949 and next year won the Victorian Legislative Assembly seat of Grant. On 19 September 1952 he was one of six Liberals who alleged that bribes had been offered to induce them to refrain from voting on the previous day against T. T. Hollway's no-confidence motion. Appearing before the ensuing royal commission, he refused to give evidence in support of his affidavit. He was defeated in the December elections, but was returned in 1955 as the L.C.P. member for Caulfield East and represented Caulfield from 1958. At Ewing Memorial Church, East Malvern, on 30 July 1955 he had married Ilene Blackley.

Initially chairman of committees (1955-56) and minister without portfolio (1956-59) in (Sir) Henry Bolte's L.C.P. government, Fraser later served as minister of State development (1959-64) and minister of forests (1959-61). He was an efficient administrator and a skilful negotiator. As a local member, he looked after his constituents with zeal, thoughtfulness and generosity. Outside parliament he chaired the National Parks Authority, the Central Planning Authority and the La Trobe Valley Development Advisory Committee. He maintained his interest in sport; and he regularly attended Ewing Memorial Church. Fraser died on 9 July 1965 at Malvern and was cremated; his wife survived him, as did two daughters and one son of his first marriage, and the son of his second. The elder son of his first marriage, who was his namesake, had been killed on 19 May 1944 while serving with the Royal Australian Air Force.

Select Bibliography

  • K. West, Power in the Liberal Party (Melb, 1965)
  • Parliamentary Debates (Victoria), 14 Sept 1965
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 30 Mar 1929, 31 Jan 1948, 5, 10 Oct 1952, 9, 13 July 1965
  • Age (Melbourne), 28 Apr 1937, 24 Aug 1942, 27 May 1944, 22 Nov 1946, 2 Apr 1949, 28 Mar 1956, 7 July 1964, 10 July 1965
  • Herald (Melbourne), 9 Oct 1952, 1 Sept 1962, 12 July 1965
  • private information.

Citation details

L. H. S. Thompson, 'Fraser, Alexander John (1892–1965)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/fraser-alexander-john-10237/text18099, published in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 23 August 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

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