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Wednesday, June 2, 1999 Published at 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Ku Klux Klan sets up Australian branch

American klansmen are now looking for Australian converts

The Ku Klux Klan, the American white supremacist organisation, has opened branches in Australia, and has already recruited around 70 members.

The KKK's Australian operation is headed by Peter Coleman, who, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, was a founder of Australia's extreme right-wing One Nation party.

One Nation came to electoral prominence last year, with strong results in state elections in Queensland. However, it only won one seat in last October's national elections.

"I am happy to shout it from the rooftops," Mr Coleman said. "Our aim is for a white Australia, a fair Australia." He said that Australia's Aborigines were "beyond help.... the worst of the whites mixed in with the black."

Mr Coleman said that negative press coverage of Pauline Hanson and her One Nation party's views was making people more outspoken. "You are forced to be extremist," he said.


One Nation immediately expelled Mr Coleman from the party, and also blamed the media. One Nation executive director David Ettridge said that KKK "infiltration" was inevitable "because the media kept telling extremists that we were an extremist organisation".

But Aborigine leader Gatjil Djerrkura was unimpressed.

"One Nation party officials can talk until they're blue in the face about expelling people such as Peter Coleman but they know and we know they are responsible for giving them legitimacy," he said.

Internet a key tool

Mr Coleman, who said the Internet was a key recruiting tool, has been named Exalted Cyclops by the Imperial Klans of America.

Braches have been set up in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, while a second KKK group, the New Order Knights, plans to start an Australian chapter soon.

However, the leader of Australia's Jewish B'nai Brith Anti-Defamation League played down the threat posed by a KKK presence in Australia. He said that the "suit-and-tie racism" of a more mainstream party like One Nation was a greater danger.

"Just because there are three guys running around in hoods doesn't mean we have to rush to the barricades," he said.

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