Changing face of Australia revealed in new Palace documents

Sir John Kerr (above right) with the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh

The well-financed republican campaign in Australia – whose backers include former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and billionaire media magnate Rupert Murdoch – is busy propagandising today, after the release of hundreds of letters from the mid-1970s between the then Governor-General Sir John Kerr (the Queen’s representative in Australia) and Sir Martin Charteris, then the Queen’s Private Secretary.

Their objective has been to find a ‘smoking gun’ proving that Buckingham Palace had prior knowledge of Sir John Kerr’s decision to dismiss Australia’s left-wing prime minister Gough Whitlam during the 1975 constitutional crisis.

This morning’s release at the National Archives of Australia is a vast trove of documents, and the Whitlam saga is too complex to discuss in full here, but at first glance there are two aspects of immediate interest to H&D readers.

In June 1976 Sir John and Lady Kerr were confronted by a mob of 400 far-left demonstrators in Melbourne – mainly Maoist students and militant trade unionists – after the Governor-General and his wife had arrived for official celebrations of Commonwealth Day.

A brick smashed the front window of Sir John’s Rolls-Royce and one of his officials suffered facial cuts requiring hospital treatment.

Eric Butler, founder of the League of Rights, was a prominent pro-Monarchy campaigner and opponent of international communist subversion.

In his report to Buckingham Palace on the incident, Sir John mentioned that many others were rallying to his and the monarchy’s support:
“A very right-wing organisation has taken up my cause – the League of Rights. It is issuing great numbers of pamphlets and placing advertisements. The sort of things it is saying are true enough… Eric Butler who is the leader of the organisation is said to be racist and anti-semitic but these things are not stressed in his organisation. I enclose an ASIO [Australia’s MI5] report on his organisation. It is very pro-Monarchy. He may be cashing in on my position and The Queen’s visit.”

Other correspondence from the end of 1976 hints at Australia’s ethnic transformation.

Sir John wrote: “..a larger proportion of our population today is not of British extraction than was the case at the end of World War II. In 1947 98% were of British stock. By the 1971 census only 88% were so derived. …By far the majority of the non-British are Italians, Greeks, Yugoslavs and Germans. …Increasingly, but not yet significantly, we have Asians.”

The Governor-General warned the Palace that this pattern of immigration meant support for the monarchy could no longer be assumed as automatic.

However rather than Australia submitting to alien values, he believed that immigrants could be taught British-Australian values:
“…why they have come here is to benefit from our democratic and stable institutions which happen to include the Monarchy and our task for the future is to make it clear to them that in coming, and especially in becoming naturalised, they have bought a package deal which is, with the Monarchy, entrenched in our Constitution.”

This was only 40-odd years ago, but how times have changed!

Now Australians are required to grovel before the ‘culture’ of every immigrant. They must provide cheap accommodation and (in the Covid era) free food, while facing incessant complaints and demands for more.

Dare we say that perhaps the “racist and anti-semite” Eric Butler was correct?

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