|Fischer at the Reserve Forces Day commemorative service in Wagga Wagga|
|10th Deputy Prime Minister of Australia|
11 March 1996 – 20 July 1999
|Prime Minister||John Howard|
|Preceded by||Kim Beazley|
|Succeeded by||John Anderson|
|Member of the Australian Parliament
1 December 1984 – 8 October 2001
|Preceded by||Wal Fife|
|Succeeded by||Sussan Ley|
|Born||Timothy Andrew Fischer
3 May 1946
Lockhart, New South Wales, Australia
|Political party||National Party of Australia|
|Years of service||1968–1969|
|Unit||1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment|
Timothy Andrew "Tim" Fischer, AC (born 3 May 1946), has been involved in Australian politics in one form or another since 1971. He served as Deputy Prime Minister in the Howard Government from 1996 to 1999. He retired from Parliament in 2001, and was the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See between 2008 and 2012.
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, was commissioned at the Officer Training Unit, Scheyville 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. He served on the opposition frontbench from 1978 to 1984.
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 an 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. The Liberals had won a majority in their own right in the 1996 election, leaving the Nationals in a much weaker position compared to previous Coalition governments. Nonetheless, Fischer was fairly active. He supported the government introducing tough gun control measures following the Port Arthur massacre in April 1996, measures which were opposed by much of his party's rural base.
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 of Oxley at the 1996 federal election. One Nation had its greatest appeal in country areas of New South Wales and Queensland—the NPA's traditional heartland. For much of 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.
Family life and post-political career
In 1992 Fischer married Judy Brewer, and they had two sons called Dominic and Harrison.
In 1999 he 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 particular that his son Harrison has autism (Fischer himself has "high functioning" autism). After his retirement, he returned to farming at Boree Creek, and became involved in charity work, assisting organisations such as the St Vincent de Paul Society, the Fred Hollows Foundation and Autism New South Wales.
Fisher served as chairman of Tourism Australia from 2004 until 2007. He was made a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) in 2001. He served as Chairman of the ATSE Crawford Fund supporting international agricultural research from 2001 to 2006.
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. 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. In 2007 he led the Rail Freight Network Review into rail freight in Victoria, as commissioned by the Victorian Government.
In 2008-2009, Tim Fischer hosted the series of A.B.C. podcasts "The Great Train Show", covering a wide range of railway topics from around the world and within Australia. The series ceased shortly after he was appointed Australian Ambassador to the Holy See and before he actually took up the post, although the web site (where the podcasts continue to be available) still describes the show as "on an extended break" rather than terminated.
On 21 July 2008 Tim Fischer was nominated by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as the first resident Australian Ambassador to the Holy See. Tim Fischer worked closeley with the Vatican on all aspects of the canonisation of Australia's first Roman Catholic saint, Mary MacKillop. He retired from the post on 20 January 2012.
In August 2013, following the shooting death of Australian baseball player Christopher Lane in Oklahoma, Fischer called for a tourism boycott of the United States to protest the activities of the National Rifle Association and what he felt were overly lax American gun laws.
- Fischer, Tim (2000). Seven days in East Timor: Ballot and Bullets. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-86508-277-6.
- Rees, Peter; Fischer, Tim (2003). Tim Fischer's Outback Heroes: and communities that count. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-86508-831-0.
- Fischer, Tim (2004). Transcontinental Train Odyssey: the Ghan, the Khyber, the Globe. A personal guide to the great transcontinental railways of the world. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-74114-450-5.
- Fischer, Tim (2005). Asia & Australia: tango in trade, tourism and transport. University of New England Press. ISBN 978-1-86389-922-2.
- Fischer, Tim (2011). Trains Unlimited. Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-7304-9740-0.
- "Veteran Search Result: Fischer, Timothy Andrew". Nominal Roll of Vietnam Roll Veterans. Department of Veterans' Affairs. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
- "Mr (Tim) Timothy Andrew Fischer (1946 - )". Members of Parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
- "Tim Fischer tells of life with autism". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 13 December 1999. Retrieved 29 November 2010.
- "Victorian Rail Freight Network Review" (PDF). Victorian Department of Transport. December 2007. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
- "The Great Train Show - ABC Goulburn Murray - Australian Broadcasting Corporation". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
- Samantha Maiden (21 July 2008). "Tim Fischer announced ambassador to the Holy See". The Australian. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
- Speaker Profile of Tim Fischer at The Celebrity Speakers Bureau
- "Australia Ambassador Tim Fischer retires from Vatican post". 20 January 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
- Rees, Peter (2001). The boy from Boree Creek: the Tim Fischer story. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-534-0.
- Parliament biography
- Interview with Tim Fischer by Kerry O'Brien (The 7.30 Report)
- Inauguration of Tourism Australia
|Minister for Trade
|Deputy Prime Minister of Australia
|Parliament of Australia|
|Member for Farrer
|Party political offices|
|Leader of the National Party of Australia
|Australian Ambassador to the Holy See