Title: Comment: Brethrengate Australia: Union Blues? Credit: Craig Young Comment Friday 22nd September 2006 - 12:00pm1158883200 Article: 1425 Rights
Despite the best efforts of the New Zealand National Party, the Melbourne Age continues to run articles of interest about the role of the Exclusive Brethren in Australian politics. Unfortunately for our Nats, this is fast becoming an issue where Labour's disparate constituencies can unite around our shared abhorrence of this particular fringe religious group. Even better, the Exclusive Brethren seem to be deeply embroiled with the Victorian and federal centre-right, particularly in terms of industrial relations policy. US Christian Right groups like to rant about 'special rights' (within anti-discrimination laws) for lesbians, gay men and transgendered people. Well, the Exclusive Brethren appears to have preferential access to the Howard administration when it comes to formulation of exemptions from industrial relations laws. On Friday, Australian Family Court Judge Alistair Nicholson revealed that he had been visited by sect members, trying to plead for special custody laws privileges so that they could bar ex-EB spouses from seeing their partners or children if they left the cult. Happily, Nicholson didn't agree. Moreover, it now appears that the Exclusive Brethren lobbied the federal government to get anti-union clauses inserted into Australia's new federal employment contracts legislation, and got their wish. Anonymous EB schools also receive over one million dollars for their operating costs. One awaits comments from our own NZCTU about this with considerable interest. Meanwhile, it's time we did something ourselves. We need to identify which businesses are owned and operated by Exclusive Brethren, here and within Australia, so that we can boycott them. Play with fire, and one gets burnt. Recommended: "Brethren Sect Sought Special Treatment" (22 September 2006) Craig Young - 22nd September 2006    
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