Fraser, Peter,1884–1950, New Zealand political leader, b. Scotland. He emigrated to New Zealand in 1910. Previously active in Labour politics in London, he was elected to Parliament in 1918, becoming Labour party leader there. As minister of education, health, and marine (1935–40), he helped draft the Social Security Act of 1938. As prime minister (1940–49) he mobilized the country for war. He helped create the United Nations (1945), advocating protection for small countries. After economic unrest led to his downfall in 1949, he led the opposition in Parliament.
Born Aug. 28, 1884, in Fearn, Ross and Cromarty County, Scotland; died Dec. 12, 1950, in Wellington. State figure in New Zealand.
In his youth, Fraser was a member of the Independent Labour Party. He emigrated to New Zealand in 1910 and several years later helped organize the New Zealand Labour Party. Fraser was first elected to Parliament in 1918. From 1919 to 1935 he was parliamentary secretary of the Labour Party, and from 1933 to 1940 he was deputy leader of the party. In 1935, Fraser joined the first Labour government of New Zealand. He became party leader in 1940 and served as prime minister from 1940 to 1949.
Under pressure from the masses, Fraser’s government put into effect a considerable amount of social legislation, including bills to expand social insurance and health services. In practice, however, the Fraser government rejected the program of “socialization of the economy” that it had originally espoused.