Ex-Prime Minister Regrets Memphis Visit : Fraser Says He Was Drugged, Robbed

Associated Press

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser was quoted today as saying he had been drugged and robbed of his passport, wallet, suitcase and trousers in a motel in Memphis, Tenn.

He was responding to a U.S. report that said Fraser, prime minister from 1972 to 1983, had appeared in the lobby of the Admiral Benbow Inn wearing only a shirt, tie and a towel wrapped around his waist.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal said Fraser borrowed a pair of pants from a bellman before departing in a taxi.

Memphis police said they had no report of the incident.

The Sydney Morning Herald today quoted Fraser in an interview from his farm near Melbourne as saying the incident occurred Oct. 14 after he had made a speech to the Economic Club of Memphis on “Can the Western Alliance Maintain Peace?”

Fraser told the Sydney newspaper he could not remember the events of the night in detail. He said he went to another hotel, the Peabody, after the Economic Club dinner ended at about 9 p.m. and could remember little more.


“There’s nothing I can say,” he said. “I had no sense of balance that day, which I had never experienced before.”

He told the newspaper that “everything after the Peabody is a blank,” and that he was drugged and robbed. Fraser did not elaborate.

“I spoke to a friend of mine in New York. He said it happens all the time. But it always happens to someone else. When it happens to you, it’s not very pleasant,” Fraser said.

“I wish I’d never heard of bloody Memphis,” he added.

A wealthy sheep farmer and fiscal conservative, the tall, rangy Fraser grappled throughout his two terms as prime minister with unyielding economic problems. His successor, Bob Hawke, accused him of pursuing “totally irresponsible policies” and said, “We inherited a mess.”

During Fraser’s first term, he designated “Waltzing Matilda” as Australia’s national anthem--with one exception. “God Save the Queen” was reserved for royal occasions.