ACT News

Canberra suburb honours on the cards for Malcolm Fraser

The ACT Government's place naming committee will meet in coming weeks to discuss the possible co-naming a Belconnen suburb to honour Malcolm Fraser, who passed away on Friday morning.

Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser, who died on Friday morning.
Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser, who died on Friday morning. 

The tradition of naming suburbs after former politicians is known to cause headaches for the committee with a Canberra suburb already named after former MP James Fraser, who served in office for 19 years.

But historian Dr David Headon, co-chair of the committee, said the group would meet in March to discuss the suburb co-naming and was confident it would be viewed favourably.

"I am certain that one part of the discussion will involve the co-naming of the Belconnen suburb of Fraser – named after Big Jim Fraser – with Malcolm Fraser," he said.

"In this case we would have to discuss how appropriate it would be to co-name the suburb, although I am certain it will be seen as appropriate."


There is a precedent for co-naming Canberra suburbs after public figures with Cook named after both Captain James Cook and Australia's sixth Prime Minister Sir Joseph Cook.

Canberra suburbs already named after former prime ministers are Barton, Deakin, Watson, Reid, Fisher, Cook, Hughes, Bruce, Scullin, Lyons, Page, Curtin, Fadden, Forde, Chifley and Holt.

"The committee always welcomes input from ACT residents and the rest of the country when it comes to naming places after former Prime Ministers," Dr Headon said.

 "Whatever the committee decides in relation to the suburb, that doesn't preclude another kind of naming after him in the ACT or any other recognition of him in Australia."

Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson said he was confident the committee would consult with Mr Fraser's family and make sure that any decision was respectful and appropriate. 

The naming of Canberra suburbs after politicians can cause headaches when names have already been taken, or when two suburbs have similar names.

Both John Gorton and Bob Hawke have similar names with existing suburbs Gordon and Hawker, which could cause confusion for many Canberrans.

An Environment and Planning Directorate spokeswoman has said the naming committee was "unable to recommend the commemoration of Sir John Gorton in a suburb name because 'Gorton' is too similar in sound to the suburb of 'Gordon' in Tuggeranong".

According to ACT regulations, a suburb cannot be named after a prime minister unless 12 months have passed since their death, which currently rules out Whitlam, Fraser, Keating, Howard, Rudd, Gillard and Abbott.

William McMahon had a fleeting taste of the honour when plans for Gungahlin were drawn in 1991, but his name was eventually dropped from the map.

Sir Robert Menzies declined to have a Canberra suburb named after him, reportedly telling his daughter Heather Henderson that "all the good suburbs were already taken".