Guide to the Papers of Allan Fraser


MS 1844

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

Allan Fraser
Papers of Allan Fraser
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 1844
7.4 metres (36 boxes + 3 map folios + 2 folios)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


Scope and Contents

Allan Fraser's collection documents his career as a journalist and as the Member for Eden Monaro in the House of Representatives from 1943 until 1966 and from 1969 until 1972.

Two groups of papers were given to the National Library by Allan Fraser in 1967 and in 1969, during the years after his defeat in the general elections of 1966. They consist of scripts of weekly broadcasts and telecasts for the years from 1949 until 1966 and correspondence and subject files from 1944 until 1966.

The remainder of the collection was directed to the Library by Mrs Eda Fraser in 1979 and in 1982 after the death of her husband in 1977. The 1979 consignment comprised correspondence; scripts of speeches; notes on electoral issues; news cuttings; pre-selection and election campaign material for the seat of Eden Monaro (1943) and subject files.

The final group of papers received in 1982 was used extensively by Fraser's niece, Helen Fraser in the preparation of her master's thesis entitled, "Allan Fraser and the Australian Labor Party: a dissenting member and his party."

Allan Fraser's electorate was based on the rural cities of Goulburn and Queanbeyan, towns of Cooma and Crookwell and the South Coast towns of Bega, Eden, Moruya, Bateman's Bay and Milton. The collection reflects the interests of these centres including the demands of the large group of ethnic workers with the Snowy Mountains Authority.

Notable is the virtual absence of papers relating to Fraser's membership of the Board of the Canberra Community Hospital on which he served for twenty seven years.

A preliminary list of the first three consignments (3.2 metres) was prepared by Library officers in 1979. The 1982 consignment consisting of 2.24 metres has been sorted into ten series each of which is described briefly.

As part of the Library's Oral History Program, Allan Fraser spoke with journalist Mel Pratt in 1975 about his reminiscences and opinions of each Australian Prime Minister from Alfred Deakin to Gough Whitlam. (TRC 121/66). The Library's Oral History collection also contains the tapes of the speech made by Fraser at the unveiling of the Captain Cook Bi-centenary plaque, Lilac Time Hall, Goulburn 3 April 1970 (TRC 114) and his interview with Mrs Hazel De Berg in 1967 (De Berg Tape 255, 256). These tapes and their transcripts together with Helen Fraser's thesis, (MS 6602) are also available for research in the Rare Book and Manuscript Reading Room.

On the decision of Mrs Eda Fraser the Allan Fraser collection is now available to researches in the National Library.

As a complement to his brother's collection is the rich source material contained in the papers of Jim Fraser who was the Member for the Australian Capital Territory from 1951 until his death in 1970. The Jim Fraser collection is now available to researches (MS 2802).

Conditions Governing Access

Please refer to the collection's catalogue record ( for the access conditions.

Conditions Governing Use

Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.

Preferred Citation

Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Allan Fraser, National Library of Australia, MS 1844, [box number and series and/or file number]'.

Biographical Note

Allan Duncan Fraser was born on 18 September 1902 in Carlton, Victoria, a son of Donald Fraser, a surveyor and manager of a tin mine. He was educated at State schools in Victoria and Tasmania and at the Hobart High School.

In 1919 Allan Fraser joined the Hobart Mercury as a cadet journalist and continued his career on the Melbourne Argus in 1922 and subsequently worked in Sydney on the Sun and Daily Telegraph. In 1940 he joined the Daily Mirror, and worked in the Canberra Parliamentary Press Gallery from 1940 until 1943. In 1943 he resigned when he won the seat of Eden Monaro for the Australian Labor Party at the general election of that year.

During his career as a journalist he worked almost entirely in the political area. He held many offices in the Australian Journalists Association and in 1943 was President of the A.J.A. and also President of the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

When Allan Fraser won the rural seat of Eden Monaro for the Australian Labor Party it had been a conservative stronghold. At that time, Canberra had no Member in the House of Representatives, so from 1943 until this was rectified in 1949, Fraser on his own initiative, shouldered the additional burden of acting informally as "the Member for the A.C.T." In 1951 he was joined in Federal Parliament by his younger brother Jim, also a journalist who was the Member for the A.C.T. until his death in 1970.

During his terms in the House of Representatives, 1943 - 1966 and 1969 - 1972, Allan Fraser served on many committees, including the Regulations Advisory Committee (Chairman, 1944 - 1946); Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings (1946 - 1961); Select Committee to inquire into and report upon the Hansard of the House of Representatives (1954); Privileges Committee (1956 - 1966 and 1969 - 1972); and the Standing Orders Committee (1962 - 1963). In 1963 he was a member of the Australian delegation to the 18th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, New York. From 1951 until 1966 Allan Fraser was a member of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party.

Throughout his years in Parliament, he conducted a weekly commentary on Australian politics through the feature "Your Member speaks" on Radio 2CA and later on Television, Channel 7.

Political Scientist, Professor L.F. Crisp wrote of Allan Fraser in the Canberra Times 6 December 1966 "One has only to mention the Regulations Advisory Committee and the National Security Act, the Japanese destroyer Yoizuki, the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, the hapless team of Brown and Fitzpatrick, the Crimes Act Amendment Bill and State - Aid to recall his deep and active personal concern for the many aspects of human rights and human freedom."

In the General Election of 1966 Fraser was defeated. He was re-elected in 1969 and retired from Federal politics in 1972.

From 1947 until 1949 he published the newspaper Australian Observer. Allan Fraser was associated in the management of the Canberra Community Hospital, from 1947 until 1973 serving as chairman or deputy chairman for twenty five of those years. In 1974 he was elected to the A.C.T. Legislative Assembly as an Independent Member.

Allan Fraser died on 12 December 1977. He was survived by his wife Eda, whom he had married in 1931, and a son Robert.

References: Australian Parliamentary Handbook, 17th ed. Canberra, Government Printer, 1971; A.D. Fraser biographical file, National Library of Australia; Rydon, Joan, A biographical register of the Commonwealth Parliament 1901 - 1972; Who's who in Australia, 22nd ed., 1977.

Item Descriptions

Class 1. First Consignment - received 1967

Broadcasts and telecasts given by Mr. Fraser, 1949-1966 (Item 1-1975) - Box 1-2

Class 2. Second Consignment - received 1969

Correspondence A-J, 1945 (File 1-10) - Box 1

Correspondence L-Q, 1945 (File 12-15) - Box 2

Correspondence U-Z, 1945 (File 19-21) - Box 3

Correspondence B-K, 1945 (File 23-31) - Box 4

Correspondence L-T, 1944-1945 (File 32-40) - Box 5

Correspondence W-Z, A-L, 1944-1945 (File 41-52) - Box 6

Correspondence M-Z, 1944-1945 (File 53-66) - Box 7

Correspondence A-H, 1944 (File 67-78) - Box 8

Correspondence I-S, 1944 (File 79-88) - Box 9

Correspondence T-Y, 1944 (File 89-92) - Box 10

Constitution - newspaper cuttings (File 93) - Box 11

Referendum 1944 - newspaper cuttings (File 94) - Box 11

Referendum 1946 - newspaper cuttings (File 95) - Box 11

Referendum 1948 - newspaper cuttings (File 96-97)

A.F.A. League - newspaper cuttings (File 98)

Decentralization - newspaper cuttings (File 99)

New Guard - newspaper cuttings (File 100)

Women in Industry, Equal pay - newspaper cuttings (File 101)

Class 3. Third Consignment - received 1979

Speeches, notes on electoral issues (File 104-111) - Box 12

Speeches, notes on electoral issues (File 112-119) - Box 13

News cuttings (File 120-126) - Box 14

Correspondence, 1966-? (File 127-134) - Box 15

Printed matter (File 135-140) - Box 16

Printed matter (File 141) - Box 17

Printed matter (File 142) - Box 17

Cooper Repatriation Case (File 143) - Box 17

Business papers (File 144) - Box 17

Business papers (File 145) - Box 17

Electoral matters (File 146) - Box 17

A.L.P. Policy and Platform (File 147) - Box 17

News cuttings (File 148-151) - Box 18

A.L.P. Campaign Material, 1969 (File 152) - Box 18

Notebooks (File 153) - Box 18

Speeches, notes, etc. (File 154) - Box 18

Correspondence, 1940s-1960s (File 155-159) - Box 19

Applications for Secretary to Committees (File 160) - Box 19

Pre-selection and Election Campaign Eden-Monaro, 1943 (File 161) - Box 19

Photographs (File 162) - Box 19

Speeches, notes, etc. (File 163-165) - Box 20

"New Dimensions In Balanced Power" (File 166) - Box 20

Printed material (File 167) - Box 20

Abolition of the Means Test (File 168) - Box 20

A.L.P. Policy and Platform (File 169) - Box 20

Class 4. Fourth Consignment

Series 4-1. Personal File - Box 21

Allan Fraser's personal file contains an invitation to luncheon with the Prime Minister John Curtin at Parliament House Canberra on 24 November 1942; his clothing ration book, June 1944; his 'priority to travel' card, 30 September 1944; and note books containing addresses including those of key party members in the electorate of Eden-Monaro.

Series 4-2. Correspondence - Box 21

This series consists of correspondence exchanged between Allan Fraser and his constituents in Eden-Monaro from 1943 until 1972. Being a rural seat a joining the Australian Capital Territory, the subjects discussed were those affecting country people in the latter years of World War II; and in the period of post-war reconstruction; the establishment of the Snowy Mountains Authority in 1949 and the subsequent employment of large numbers of migrants from Europe in the Cooma area over the next twenty years. The correspondence of the 1950's and the 1960's reflected the economic stability of Australia, the prosperity of the rural sector and the involvement of Australia in the Vietnam war. Social Service enquires were frequent.

This group of letters complements those received by the Library in 1969 and 1979. In 1966 Allan Fraser said "In an average week my secretary and I would deal with at least 130 new cases." The number of letters in the collection is a very small portion of this workload.

Series 4-3. Scripts for Radio and Television - Box 22-23

In December 1966 Professor L.F. Crisp wrote of Allan Fraser "We have shared with the people of Eden Monaro the political education afforded by his weekly broadcasts. In his hands the feature "Your Member Speaks" has been a unique commentary on the process of Australian politics..." Crisp also said of these broadcasts, that part of the purpose, "was doubtless to bind himself to as many as possible of the voters of a far - flung constituency." The series contains exercise books of preparatory notes for these speeches. An incomplete set of scripts for weekly radio (2CA) and television (Channel 7) programs from the period 1960 until 1972. The first consignment of papers also contains scripts of these programs from 1949 until 1966.

Series 4-4. Writings by Allan Fraser - Box 24

Weekly articles on political subjects written by Fraser and published in the Sydney Sun for the year 1967, whilst he was not a Member of the House of Representatives.

Short stories in Fraser's handwriting; presumably these were unpublished.

Articles in typescript annotated "...for Quadrant". These are undated.

"When Labor governs - a foreign policy statement", Voice February 1953.

Series 4-5. Australian Labor Party - Box 25-27

This series contains election campaign itineraries during the 1951 and 1954 general elections; extracts of speeches delivered by Fraser in the House of Representatives on the Constitution Alteration Bill 1950; the Commonwealth Arbitration Act Amendment Bill 1951; the Budget 1952; the Social Services Consolidation Bill 1953; and the Browne - Fitzpatrick affair (10 June 1955). Printed material of the A.L.P. included election pamphlets, "how to vote" tickets, handbills, J.B. Chifley's statement on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, 5 May 1950; transcript of interview with Gough Whitlam on ATN 7 "seven days" 15 February 1966. The interview also contains a personal statement by Fraser explaining to his constituents his support of Whitlam's position against the A.L.P. Federal Executive on the question of voting against Party lines on matters of conscience. There are publications in 1971 relating to Labor's approach to health, its defence policy, education and decentralization of population from urban to rural areas.

Allan Fraser was a member of the Privileges Committee of the House of Representatives from 2 February 1956 until 26 November 1966 and again from 25 November 1969 until 2 December 1972. An incomplete set of agenda, minutes of meetings, written submissions and transcripts of evidence presented to the committee form series. Among the issues which the Privileges Committee dealt with during these two periods were the articles published by the Member for Reid, C.A. Morgan in 1955; a photograph published in the major metropolitan daily newspapers in August 1965 depicting the House of Representatives in session. This incident was considered a matter of qualified privilege and copyright at that time. The issue was raised by Arthur Calwell and seconded by Sir Robert Menzies. Minutes of proceedings evidence submitted are included in these papers; the report relating to the commitment to prison of Tom Uren in 1971, after his arrest at a Vietnam protest march; and a letter to the editor of the Australian 13 September 1971 on "Bribery in Parliament". The Committee questioned the editor's ethics in permitting this letter being published.

Series 4-6. Canberra Hospital Board - Box 28

Allan Fraser became a member of the Canberra Community Hospital Board in 1947 and retired as chairman of the Canberra Hospitals management Board in November 1973. From 1967 until 1973 he was chairman. A very small amount of material relating to this work is in this series. A number of letters relating to the stoppage of nurses at the hospital in June 1970 is contained here.

Series 4-7. Subject Files

Australian Journalists' Association (File) - Box 28-29

Fraser was at various times secretary, treasurer and president of the Australian Journalists Association in Victoria between 1927 and 1929, treasurer in New South Wales in 1936 and president in the Australian Capital Territory from 1942 until 1944. This file contains a handbook on the A.J.A.'s constitution (1940), correspondence between Fraser and John Cunningham, President of the Senate, (3 June 1942). It also contains a copy of The Journalist November 1942 (price 6d.) as well as a copy of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration decision in the A.J.A. verses Truth and Sportsmans Ltd, 1942. The file also contains other papers and publications relating to industrial disputes of the A.J.A. in 1940 and 1942. They concern wages and working conditions and the importation of cheap syndicated press materials for overseas.

The second file consists of papers of the Institute of Journalists (U.K.) which urge Fraser to join this group (1934), the Institute's handbook and other literature. This was sent to him c/- The Australian newspaper cable service, The Times office, London.

Jack Lang Film (File) - Box 28-29

Transcript of a filmed interview between Allan Fraser and Jack Lang, Labor Premier of New South Wales 1925-1927 and 1930-1932 Member of the House of Representatives for the seat of Reid 1946 - 1949. This document was enclosed with a letter Allan Fraser received from the Australian Broadcasting Commission, 8 June, 1967, requesting Fraser to edit the transcript for the film production "J.T. Lang".

Jessie Street (File) - Box 28-29

In 1977 Peter Sekuless wrote to Allan Fraser requesting his comments on a chapter on politics in the manuscript of his biography of Jessie Street which was published in 1978 by Queensland University Press.

State-aid (File) - Box 28-29

A small collection of press cuttings and pamphlets concerning the question of state - aid to non-government schools. The cuttings document an incident relating to the closure of a Catholic primary school in Goulburn in 1966 and Fraser's subsequent stand in the House of Representatives in favour of the principle of State-aid.

Vietnam (File) - Box 28-29

Brochures, pamphlets, handbills and press cuttings relating to the moratorium campaigns against the Vietnam War, the visit of President Johnson to Australia in 1966 and Prime Minister Holt's declaration "All the way with L.B.J. the participation of Dr. J.F. Cairns in the moratorium marches in Melbourne and Sydney and the court cases of conscientious objectors - Simon Townsend and others to the ballots for national service.

Series 4-8. Press Releases by Others, 1940-1945 - Box 30

Included in this series are the press releases distribute to the press gallery of the Federal Parliament for the years 1940 - 1945 by the Senators and the Members of the House of Representatives. These provide a valuable account of many important issues of the war period.

Series 4-9. Press Cuttings - Box 31-33

The large collection of press cuttings date from 1924 until 1977 and are arranged in annual sequence. There are three scrap books (1945-1952, 1961 (2)) with the remainder being loose. The subjects include royal tours, significant political issues of those years, obituaries of prominent Australians e.g.. Harold Holt - and the political events that followed his death and events in the Eden-Monaro electorate. Events also covered in the cuttings are the split of the Australian Labor Party and the subsequent formation of the Non-Communist Labor Party and the Democratic Labor Party in 1954 -19 55; the Bank Nationalisation Bill 1948; the Communist Party dissolution Bill 1950: the Crimes Act Amendment Bill 19 the Petrov Affair and the subsequent Royal Commission on the Communist Party 1954

The cuttings cover the Labor Party's leadership struggle between Arthur Calwell and Gough Whitlam in 1967 and other issues of national and international interest. Press cuttings have also been placed in relevant subject files, Vietnam War and State-aid.

Series 4-10. General Printed Material - Box 34-36

This collection of material contains reports of the River Murray Commission (1939 - 1940); the Budget papers (1940 - 1941); issues of Public administration (1952 and 1953); Voice (1953 and 1954); Inside Canberra (27 April 1950); Canberra survey (17 June 1954); pamphlets: Time and the bomb by W.C. Wentworth, and Henry George School Magazine (March 1954) and the Snowy Mountains story published by the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Authority (n.d.). In this series there is also a copy of an address by Charles Duguid entitled "Central Aborigines reserve" given to the Aborigines Advancement League of South Australia on the 21 October 1957. Some other articles of interest include the Catholic Worker October 1964 sent to Fraser with Compliments of Arthur Calwell with reference to an article, "Dialogue with communists" and Sol Encel's paper "Socialist ideas in the sixties"