Today we mourn the passing of Australia’s 22nd Prime Minister, The Rt. Hon. Malcolm Fraser.

A “fierce patriot,” and one of Australia’s most well loved and respected leaders, Mr Fraser was 84 years old.

A statement released by his office today read, “It is with deep sadness that we inform you that after a brief illness, John Malcolm Fraser died peacefully in the early hours of March 20, 2015.”

While flags at Parliament House are flowing at half-mast today, tributes to the former Liberal Party leader continue to flood social media. Notably, former Labor PM, Julia Gillard tweeted in recognition of Mr Fraser’s anti-apartheid contribution, “I honour Malcolm Fraser. His brave stance against the evil of South Africa’s apartheid helped change the world.”

Current PM, Tony Abbott tweeted, “Our country has lost its 22nd PM, the Rt. Hon. Malcolm Fraser – our sympathies are extended to Tamie & their family.”

In a further statement released to the media, Mr Abbott said, “Malcolm Fraser held true to the belief that his actions were in the best interests of Australia. He was determined to ‘turn on the lights’ and restore Australia’s economic fortunes.

“The greatest win in Australian political history confirms that he had correctly read the mood of the public,” said Mr Abbott.

“The friendship he built in later life with Gough Whitlam spoke volumes about the character of both men at the centre of the crisis: in their own different ways, they were both fierce Australian patriots.”

Mr Fraser was a true political leader and a man beyond his time – fiercely patriotic, conservative yet socially progressive. He promulgated multiculturalism, embraced Aboriginal land rights, bravely spearheaded the Commonwealth push to end apartheid in South Africa and advocated for an independent Zimbabwe.

For those old enough among us to have experienced Mr Fraser’s 7.5 year-long political tenure from 1975, we extend our condolences to his family and friends. RIP Mr Fraser.