WWF today expressed sadness at the passing of former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, whose legacy includes stronger protection for the Great Barrier Reef, an end to whaling, greater protection for Australian wildlife and support for action on climate change.
In 1975, the Fraser Government passed the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, and Uluru was the first park to be proclaimed under the Act.
Malcolm Fraser’s government prohibited exploration and drilling for petroleum on the Great Barrier Reef in 1979 and in October of that same year declared the Capricornia section of the Reef the first stage of a protected Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
In 1981, under Malcolm Fraser’s leadership the Great Barrier Reef was inscribed as World Heritage, along with Kakadu National Park.
In March 1978, the Fraser Government set up an inquiry into whaling, arguing for an end to the practice in Australia. He pushed for Australia to join other nations lobbying for an international ban and in April 1979, Australia’s whaling industry came to an end.
Under the Fraser Government, Australia signed a range of internationally important conservation agreements, including a convention against trading endangered species, a convention on the conservation of seals in Antarctica and a convention on the international importance of wetlands.
In 1980, Malcolm Fraser urged his Cabinet to sign on to the Global Conservation Strategy developed by the UN, WWF and others. At that time, he said:
”Development requires modification and transformation of the environment … The planet’s capacity to support its people is being irreversibly reduced by the destruction and degradation of the biosphere and the need to understand the problem and take corrective action is becoming urgent.”
In his later life, Malcolm Fraser spoke often about the urgent challenge of climate change, and the need for Australia to lead the way in solving this global problem.
He supported the Say Yes campaign, a coalition of organisations representing young people, workers, and the environment – including WWF – who shared a common commitment to a price on carbon pollution.
In support of the Say Yes campaign, Malcolm Fraser said, “the overwhelming body of scientific evidence supports the need for change. Many countries are well ahead of Australia. We need to act or we will fall further behind.”
WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman described Malcolm Fraser as a courageous leader and an advocate for the environment who was never afraid to speak out on issues of importance to our lives and the nation.
“Many of the environmental protections we have today have their beginnings in the courageous stand taken by former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser on issues ranging from marine protection and whaling to the trade in endangered species and climate change,” Mr O’Gorman said.