Jon Stanhope reckons Frank Fenner would be turning in his grave at the news that his name will replace that of longtime member for Canberra Jim Fraser in representing the northern electorate of the ACT.
The augmented Electoral Commission confirmed today that Fraser is to become Fenner despite a number of high profile objections to the name change plan, including a suggestion from the son of Jim Fraser that it be changed to Whitlam instead.
Boundaries will also change, forcing sitting member Andrew Leigh to move his electorate office.
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“I cannot believe that Frank Fenner would have for one minute countenanced the prospect of being recognized at the expense of Jim Fraser,” Mr Stanhope wrote in his objection to the plan.
“In my mind, knowing Frank Fenner as I did, I see him spinning in his grave at the prospect that his recognition is at the expense of and replaces that of another most worthy Canberran.”
Former Labor politician Fraser (pictured) served as member for Canberra from 1951 to 1970. His name had to go to free Fraser up for a Victorian electorate following the death of former prime minister Malcolm Fraser.
The electorate of Fenner will honour the late Canberra virologist Professor Frank Fenner, best known for his work on the eradication of smallpox and control of Australia’s rabbit plague using the myxoma virus.
A number of high profile residents of Canberra and the region made submissions to the commission on the name change, including Jon Stanhope, Professor Ian Young AO, Steve Whan, Jack Pennington OAM and Jim Fraser’s son Andrew, who called on the commission to change the name to Whitlam rather than Fraser given Gough Whitlam’s ties with Canberra and connection to Jim Fraser.
“Whitlam and Jim Fraser represented the same party and were in Parliament for the best part of two decades,” Mr Fraser wrote.
“It is submitted that the passing on of a seat name from one loved backbencher to his eminent leader would be an apt connection across the years and save the memory of the backbencher a little longer than if the Whitlam name were to attach to a NSW electorate.”
ACT Labor backed Mr Fraser’s Whitlam proposal, but to no avail.
This evening, sitting Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh told RiotACT Frank Fenner was an extraordinary Australian.
“It’s an honour to represent an electorate named after him. Jim Fraser’s contribution to Canberra continues to be recognised through the suburb of Fraser and I’m glad his memory lives on in that way.”