January 21, 1997

Article at The Sydney Morning Herald

NEWS | Keneally links racism to monarchy

Author and Australian Republican Movement founder Tom Keneally


Monarchists who argue against the country becoming a republic are giving comfort to white racists in Australia, the author and Australian Republican Movement founder Tom Keneally told a gathering in Sydney at the weekend. 

“I think that white racism in Australia is buttressed by this institution (of the monarchy), and it’s time someone said it,” Keneally told a packed political forum at the Harold Park Hotel in Glebe.

“I feel that white racism in Australia is comforted by the institution because it creates certain precious myths: that we are white Australians, that the British fleet is out in the Pacific, saving us from the ‘fuzzy-wuzzies’; that the world is as it ought to be - with the whites on top.”

He said that the institution of the monarchy, and groups such as Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy, were inadvertently aiding reactionary elements such as the Independent Federal MP Ms Pauline Hanson.

But he was not implying that Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy and its leading members, such as the Federal Liberal MP Mr Tony Abbott or Mr Lloyd Waddy, QC, “are racist or consciously cherish the monarchy for this reason”.

“But I think the monarchy, despite itself and despite its own best intentions, can be pressed into service for that purpose - as a divisive issue.

“The reality, of course, is that Singapore fell a long time ago. But psychologically there is a dependence upon this institution to deliver stability to a white society which does not have room for people from other places.”

Mr Abbott, former executive director and a founding member of Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy, accused Mr Keneally of a “gigantic slur” against monarchists.

“It’s an outrageous smear. It’s just a low, contemptible thing to say,” Mr Abbott said. Although Ms Hanson believed that Australia should remain a constitutional monarchy, this did not mean that all monarchists agreed with her views, he added.

Keneally stood by his statements last night. It was not just racists who were bolstered by retention of the monarchy, he said. It also sent a coded message to Asia. Asians saw it “as sign that we’d really rather not be doing business with Asia, that we’d rather be moored off Kent”.