Ex-Liberal elder statesman backs Napthine

FORMER prime minister Malcolm Fraser has urged fellow Victorians to re-elect the Napthine government, claiming it deserves a second term.

Malcolm Fraser: "I think the state government deserves a second term."

Malcolm Fraser: "I think the state government deserves a second term."

Mr Fraser offered a strong endorsement for Denis Napthine’s leadership and suggested the Premier had an “intelligent and moderate” approach to government compared to the “bottom of the barrel” politics in Canberra.

“I think the state government deserves a second term,” Mr Fraser, who was prime minister from 1975 to 1983, said.

“I wish Denis Napthine well. “I think he’s a battler, I think he’s sincere and I believe he’s a good advocate for the people of Victoria.

“I don’t think the state Labor Party has earned a right to govern. I think the involvement of the Leader of the Opposition (Daniel Andrews) with what appears to be some pretty difficult practices with some building unions casts a shadow — a New South Wales ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) sort of shadow — over the Labor Party in Victoria.

“I believe that ought to be totally cleared up before people decide whether the Labor Party is again fit to govern.”

Dr Napthine said he welcomed the endorsement of Mr Fraser, adding that his period as prime minister was a pivotal time in Australia’s post-war history.

“I’m sure Malcolm Fraser is aware of the work of the Coalition government in investing in key infrastructure, our focus on regional Victoria,” the Premier said. “I welcome the endorsement from Malcolm Fraser — he is well-regarded across Australia and indeed throughout the world for his work in government and post-politics.”

Mr Fraser was awarded life membership of the Liberal Party as prime minister in 1976 but chose to walk away from the organisation five years ago after Tony Abbott became opposition leader.

He said he had since felt free to offer endorsements on merit — backing the Baillieu opposition ahead of the 2010 Victorian state election and Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young ahead of the 2013 federal election.

The Premier and Mr Fraser first met in the late 1970s when Dr Napthine was a young vet with the Department of Agriculture.

“I got to know him quite well through my early involvement in the Liberal Party and visited Nareen (Fraser’s former property) in my days as a vet,” Dr Napthine said.

Mr Fraser is not alone among former prime ministers to offer their thoughts on Victorian state politics. In January this year, Paul Keating complimented Mr Andrews, writing to a former Labor MP of his admiration for his work ethic.

“I see a bit of Daniel Andrews and admire his energy and pluck,” Mr Keating wrote. “He is easily the most energetic of the state opposition leaders.”

Mr Keating’s successor John Howard has also spoken in support of Dr Napthine’s leadership when they appeared together at a Liberal Party anniversary dinner in March this year.

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