Yesterday, the AFR‘s Laura Tingle revealed that former Liberal PM Malcolm Fraser had quit the party in disgust December last year, shortly after Tony Abbott got hold of the leadership reigns.

As Crikey‘s media writer and Fraser’s biographer Margaret Simons explained yesterday, she has known all year but was sitting on the story. However, for the rest of the media, the revelation was news — though it seems to have been met with a collective, “Well, duh.”

Nevertheless, the pundits are keen to let everyone know they saw it coming, and what they reckon it means (if anything) for the party going forward: is this a fatal blow to Abbott and his party in an election year, or just another footnote in Australian political history?

The Australian

Editorial: Parting of the ways no surprise

… a footnote to a political life replete with contradictions.

Samantha Maiden: Who quit who first – Fraser or the Libs?

… a long time coming.

Sydney Morning Herald

Peter Hartcher: It’s not my party and I’ll quit if I want to

Fraser’s resignation marks not just the passing of the Liberal Party as he once knew it, but the advent of a whole new Australia.

Miranda Devine: A convert to the preaching will have no power to change

… he would have done a lot more damage to conservatives if he’d remained in their ranks.

The Age

Tony Wright: Friends hard to come by, old bull Fraser leaps the fence

… Abbott must be worse even than Rudd, because Fraser can’t bear to remain in the same party.

Shaun Carney: A matter of political philosophy, not politics, for Fraser

… a matter of political philosophy, not politics.

Daily Telegraph

Editorial: Politics quit Malcolm Fraser long ago

… a move calculated to unsettle his former party during an election year.


Norman Abjorensen: Formal decree of divorce

Even so pragmatic an entity such as the Liberal Party needs a conscience, and Fraser has been just that.


Politically Homeless, Andrew Elder: Entitled to your opinion

The Liberal Party has not been a party of both liberal and conservative traditions for a decade at least.

Anonymous Lefty, Jeremy Sears: A more honest fight – Malcolm Fraser leaving the Liberals

I fully support people like Malcolm Fraser leaving the Liberals… It weakens those parties, by decreasing their ability to trick a broad church of voters into voting for them, but it strengthens democracy.

Bruitin: The Existentialist

I first met my friend Malcolm Fraser fifty years ago at an SCM camp…