Tim Fischer

Tim Fischer

Infobox Deputy Prime Minister
name=Tim Fischer

order=11th Deputy Prime Minister of Australia
term_start =1996
term_end =1999
predecessor =Kim Beazley
successor =John Anderson
birth_date =
birth_place =Lockhart, New South Wales, Australia
death_date =
constituency =Farrer
party= National

Timothy Andrew Fischer AC FTSE (born 3 May 1946), is a former Australian politician.

Early history

Fischer was born in Lockhart, in the Riverina district of New South Wales, son of a farmer of German descent. He was educated at Xavier College, Melbourne. In 1966 he was conscripted into the Australian Army, and served in the Vietnam War - an experience which left him with a lifelong identification with the Australian armed forces, as well as an affinity with Asia.

On his return from Vietnam, Fischer took up farming at Boree Creek in the Riverina, and became active in the Country Party, as the party was then called. He represented Sturt in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1971 to 1980 and Murray from 1980 to 1984. [cite web
title =Mr (Tim) Timothy Andrew Fischer (1946 - )
work =Members of Parliament
publisher =Parliament of New South Wales
url = http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/members.nsf/1fb6ebed995667c2ca256ea100825164/72e56bc44fba13e4ca256e2a00050ceb!OpenDocument
accessdate = 2007-02-26
] For most of that time he was a fairly unremarkable country member (although he served on the opposition frontbench from 1978 to 1984), which makes his rapid success in federal politics all the more surprising.

Federal political career

In 1984 Fischer won the federal seat of Farrer for the National Party of Australia (NPA), as the Country Party had been renamed. Within a year he was on the opposition frontbench, and soon became a popular figure in both the NPA and the Parliament: his sometimes rustic manner and bumbling English concealing a shrewd political brain. In 1990, when the attempt by Charles Blunt to modernise the NPA's image ended with his losing his seat, Fischer was elected NPA leader, defeating the former leader Ian Sinclair.

Fischer was an enthusiastic supporter of the "Fightback" package of economic and tax reforms proposed by the Liberal leader Dr John Hewson in 1991. But he was unsuccessful in persuading the majority of rural voters, particularly in Queensland, that the proposed changes, particularly the goods and services tax (GST) was in their interests, and Labor under Paul Keating won the 1993 election.

The Liberals finally regained office under John Howard in 1996. Fischer became Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, although the NPA was in a much weaker position in terms of seats than it had been in previous coalition governments under Robert Menzies and Malcolm Fraser. Fischer supported the government introducing tough gun control measures following the Port Arthur massacre in April 1996, measures which were opposed by many rural people.

Fischer also had difficulty with the determination of many Liberals, including the Treasurer, Peter Costello, to carry out sweeping free-market reforms, including abolishing tariff protection for rural industries, deregulating petrol prices and other measures seen as harmful by farmers' organisations. The issue of native title for indigenous Australians following the Mabo and Wik decisions also caused much political difficulty for Fischer.

Further trouble for Fischer and the NPA came with the rise of One Nation, a right-wing populist party led by Pauline Hanson, a disendorsed Liberal candidate who was nonetheless elected member for the Queensland seat Oxley at the 1996 federal election. One Nation had its greatest appeal in country areas of New South Wales and Queensland, and during 1997 and 1998 it looked as though One Nation might sweep the NPA out of existence. In the 1998 election campaign, however, Fischer strongly counter-attacked One Nation, mainly on the grounds of their "flat tax" economic policies, and succeeded in holding the NPA's losses to one Senate seat in Queensland.

Post-political career

In 1999 Fischer surprised his colleagues by resigning as party leader and as a minister, and by announcing that he would retire at the election due in 2001. His decision to quit politics was motivated partly by the demands of his family. In 1992 he married Judy Brewer, and they had two sons. Since his retirement he has returned to farming at Boree Creek, and is involved in charity work, assisting organisations such as the St Vincent de Paul Society, The Fred Hollows Foundation and Autism New South Wales.

In 2004, Fisher was appointed chairman of Tourism Australia. His term as chairman ended on June 30th, 2007.

In 2005 Fischer received Australia's highest civilian honour, when he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC).

Fischer is noted as a tireless advocate for rail transport and is probably Australia's best known railfan. [cite news|url=http://www.abc.net.au/adelaide/stories/s1169464.htm|last=Walsh|first=Angela|title=Transcontinental Train Odyssey|publisher=Australian Broadcasting Corporation|date=2004-08-04|accessdate=2007-08-07] He had a childhood hobby of studying rail gauges of the world. Since retiring from politics he has continued his association with rail as Special Envoy to the Adelaide to Darwin railway line and travelled on the first freight train and first "Ghan" passenger train to Darwin in 2004.

Fischer was made a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (FTSE) in 2001. He served as Chairman of the ATSE Crawford Fund supporting international agricultural research from 2001 to 2006.

In 2007 he lead the Rail Freight Network Review into rail freight in Victoria, as commissioned by the Victorian Government. [cite web
work=Media Release: Premier of Victoria
date=21 December 2007

On July 21 2008 Tim Fischer was nominated by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as the first resident Australian Ambassador to the Holy See since 1973, when diplomatic relations with the Vatican and Australia was first established. [cite web
title=Tim Fischer announced ambassador to the Holy See
work=The Australian
author=Samantha Maiden
date=July 21, 2008


Fischer retains a good reputation in Australian public life, and even his political opponents were generous with their praise on his retirement. As well as his personal characteristics, this was at least due to his political views. A moderate on environmental protection, his concerted effort to attack what was widely viewed as the economic lunacy of One Nation's policies went down well with the capital city middle class. Whilst unable to support it publicly, it was believed that he was a closet supporter of, or at least not actively opposed to, an Australian republic. More generally, his internationalist perspective was widely appreciated and unexpected from a leader of such a conservative rural party.

He stood out as somewhat of an eccentric in the relatively buttoned-down world of Australian politics. He was famous for his ability to mangle the English language with stilted grammar, using a few key phrases carrying his point before heading off in another direction entirely. As Trade Minister, his calling-card became the Akubra hat, which he managed to convince not a few Asian leaders to don.


* "Seven days in East Timor: ballot and bullets" by Tim Fischer, Allen & Unwin, 2000. ISBN 9781865082776.
* "Tim Fischer's Outback Heroes: and communities that count" by Peter Rees and Tim Fischer, Allen & Unwin, 2003. ISBN 9781865088310.
* "Transcontinental Train Odyssey: the Ghan, the Khyber, the Globe" by Tim Fischer, Allen & Unwin, 2004. ISBN 9781741144505. A personal guide to the great transcontinental railways of the world.
* "Asia & Australia: tango in trade, tourism and transport" by Tim Fischer, University of New England Press, 2005. ISBN 9781863899222.



* "The boy from Boree Creek: the Tim Fischer story" by Peter Rees, Allen & Unwin, 2001. ISBN 1865085340.

External links

* [http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb//view_document.aspx?TABLE=BIOGS&ID=9880 Parliament biography]
* [http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2001/s288265.htm Interview with Tim Fischer] by Kerry O'Brien ("The 7.30 Report")
* [http://www.tourism.australia.com/NewsCentre.asp?lang=EN&sub=0315&al=607 Inauguration of Tourism Australia]
* [http://www.abc.net.au/backyard/greattrainshow/ The Great Train Show]

NAME=Fischer, Tim
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Fischer, Timothy Andrew
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Australian politician
DATE OF BIRTH=3 May 1946
PLACE OF BIRTH=Lockhart, New South Wales, Australia

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