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Title: Opinion: Brethrengate Reopens Further... Credit: Craig Young Comment Monday 18th September 2006 - 12:00pm1158537600 Article: 1419 Rights
 
On TVNZ's Agenda, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Gerry Brownlee finally conceded that the Exclusive Brethren factor had cost National votes last year- thus contradicting the erstwhile Leader of the Opposition, Don Brash. It also contradicts NBR's Ben Thomas and David Young, who asked why Labour was trying to demonise the 'religious right' given its lack of political sophistication and influence. Problem is, they compared apples and oranges. Added to which, hindsight is a wonderful thing. We now know Destiny Church consists of Brian Tamaki's overinflated ego, hordes of sycophantic followers, no political sophistication, and hamstrung mobilisational capacities related to that horde's poverty. However, Destiny Church are not the Exclusive Brethren. The Exclusive Brethren are a well-healed, authoritarian and secretive international sect, who have repeatedly interfered in the sovereign affairs of Canada, Tasmania and New Zealand over issues of lesbian and gay relationship recognition, our nuclear-free policies and environmental protection. Why shouldn't Labour challenge the underhanded and dishonest method of covert partisan campaigning that happened in our own context? Refreshingly, Brownlee conceded as much, even if it was related to Labour's continuing self-inflicted woes over the pledge card issue. As a government supporter, I just wish they'd pay back the money owing, and stop giving the Opposition an easy target. Moreover, it distracts attention from the serious issue here, campaign finance reform. Brownlee conceded that the Exclusive Brethren should not have interfered with last year's election, should not have engaged in anonymous smear tactics with post office box 'addresses' with no visible identifying affiliation, and other aspects of collateral damage caused to National's campaign in major urban centres last year. The issue is that the Exclusive Brethren brought influence in that context. However, last year, Brash arrogantly welcomed all assistance for the Nats, no matter what they'd done, or how they had done it. All of which suggests that The Donald's days as Leader of the Opposition may be numbered. Campaign finance reform will not go away as a political issue, even if the issue has inflicted still more damage on the Leader of the Opposition's dominance over his caucus. It is time that both parties faced up to it, and worked out a multipartisan solution to this issue. Recommended: Ben Thomas and David Young: "Labour Finds Temporary Respite After Tables Turn" National Business Review 16.09.06: 14. Craig Young - 18th September 2006    
 
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