One Nation rocked by new claims over Klan

The Age/June 8, 1999
By Greg Roberts

One Nation has expelled a second member after discovering his links to the racist Ku Klux Klan only hours after the party leader, Mrs Pauline Hanson, argued that there was no evidence that the Klan existed in Australia.

The expelled member is linked to a group which claims three klansmen stood as One Nation candidates in the recent NSW election.

While Mrs Hanson sought to paint recent reports on the Klan's activity as an unsubstantiated ``smear campaign'', her party director, Mr David Ettridge, admitted the latest expulsion and revealed that he had appealed to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to investigate whether the Klan had infiltrated the party.

The party member expelled yesterday, Mr Robert Leys, who lives near Tamworth in NSW, had told The Age he was a Grand Titan of the so-called Australian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (KKKK). It had established 11 branches in rural NSW and a total membership of more than 200.

This group was not associated with Mr Peter Coleman, who was expelled by One Nation last week when it was revealed he was the Australian organiser of the Imperial Klans of America.

Mr Leys later claimed he was not a member of the KKKK but of the World Church of the Creator, a white supremacist group with close ties to the Klan.

Mr David Palmer, a former electrician, of Sydney, describes himself as the Imperial Wizard of the Australian KKKK. Mr Palmer said initially he had promoted Mr Leys to the position of Grand Titan after the ``excellent work he has done in getting people organised in country NSW''.

Mr Palmer said his group differs from the Imperial Klans of America because it is paganist, rather than Christian, and because it is not affiliated with the KKKK in the United States.

Mr Palmer is a long-standing admirer of Adolf Hitler and also heads a Nazi group called the National Socialist Defence of Aryan People Movement. He said his group has three chapters, called ``klaverns'', in Sydney; one in Wollongong; one in Melbourne and three in Queensland.

Mr Palmer said his group had infiltrated One Nation, with klansmen and kinswomen occupying official positions in several party branches, and that three One Nation candidates in the NSW election belong to the Australian KKK.

Mr Ettridge wrote to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation yesterday, asking it to urgently investigate the KKK and other white supremacist groups and tell the party if its membership includes their supporters. The party was ``extremely anxious'' to learn if KKK members or the members of other extremist groups are in its ranks.

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