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White-anting is an Australian term for the process of internal erosion of a foundation. It is often used in reference to groups such as political parties or organisations where information from group insiders is 'leaked' or used to undermine the goals of the group. The Macquarie Dictionary says the verb "to white-ant" means "to subvert or undermine from within".[citation needed]

The term is derived from the action of termites (white ants) eating the inside of wooden building foundations, often leaving no outward evidence, until the structure crumbles.


It has been used on the soap opera Neighbours several times including in 2006.[1]

In 2012, the Illawarra Mercury newspaper also used the term, when it reported that then-government minister Greg Combet wanted his colleagues to stop white-anting the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.[2]

In 1938, Gordon Childe used the term in a letter to Rajani Palme Dutt, explaining how in his books he used the method of 'white-anting' to get his Marxist message to the masses rather than labeling himself as a Marxist and using Marxist terms, thus eroding the institution of bourgeois scholarship.[3]

In 2019, Steve Smith, the returned former captain of the Australian cricket team, was accused of white-anting the new captain Tim Paine.[4]


  1. ^ "Episode 4898". .neighboursepisodes.com. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  2. ^ Coorey, Phillip (2 Feb 2012). "Combet attacks colleagues for white-anting Gillard". Illawarra Mercury. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  3. ^ Childe to Dutt, 14 October 1938, Palme Dutt Papers in Communist Party of Great Britain Archives, Labour History Archive and Study Centre, People's History Museum, Manchester
  4. ^ "Steve Smith addresses Chappell 'white-anting' accusations". 1116 SEN - Melbourne's Home of Sport. December 3, 2019. Retrieved August 15, 2020.

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