Malcolm Fraser, 84, who became prime minister of Australia after engineering the dismissal of Gough Whitlam in 1975 and went on to win three federal elections, died Friday after a short illness, his office said in a statement.

The Liberal opposition leader became embroiled in Australia's best-known constitutional crisis when he emerged from Parliament House in November 1975 as Whitlam's unelected successor.

Governor-General John Kerr, the British monarchy's representative in Australia at the time, had asked Mr. Fraser to form a government after sacking Whitlam over the opposition's blockage of supply bills. After winning a landslide election victory against Whitlam in December 1975, Mr. Fraser went on to win in 1977 and 1980. - Bloomberg