|Only days away from the Australian federal election, the Exclusive Brethren have launched an ill-timed anti-Green attack against Senator Bob Brown, an openly gay man, in his native Tasmania.
As usual, it was the Melbourne Age newspaper's Michael Bachelard that reported this latest development across the Tasman. One wonders at the Exclusive Brethren's sense of timing, though, as this rather plays into the hands of those who regard New Zealand's Electoral Finance Bill as a necessity, primarily designed to stop exactly these shenanigans.
This latest pamphlet is a significant departure, however, as it clearly identifies forty eight men and three women as members of the right-wing sect, currently under fire on both sides of the Tasman for its anonymous contributions to John Howard's Liberals and the Brash-era National Party here. Brown is attacked for repeatedly lobbying for a federal Senate investigation into Exclusive Brethren activities, while the federal Greens are lambasted for an apparent belief in bestiality, inciting Aboriginal riots after a death in police custody on Queensland's Palm Island (2004), and urging "infiltration" of the sect.
Tasmanian Green MP Christine Milne suggested that there might well be connections between the sect, the Liberal Party and logging interests in the state, where native forest preservation is a key issue, while Bob Brown suggested that this was the latest in a long line of Exclusive Brethren attempts to buy elections for the Howard administration.
Meanwhile, anti-reform groups held a march in Auckland last week to oppose the Electoral Finance Bill.
On TVNZ's One Network News, the so-called "March for Democracy" was held by the usual suspects. One of the organisers, John Boscawen, is a former ACT New Zealand treasurer, while the Christian Right's Family First and the Sensible Sentencing Trust were the other culprits. I'm sorry, but it's sheer laziness to describe most of this lot as "Middle New Zealand" as it did.
Family First is a Christian Right pressure group. Its founder, Bob McCroskie, is a media host on the fundamentalist Sky Digital "Shine" television channel, and regularly contributes to Challenge Weekly. The organisation was one of the ringleaders against Sue Bradford's anti-belting bill, and is currently in high dudgeon about advertising for TV3's Californication.
At a time when the Australian media is full of articles about the Exclusive Brethren's interference with their previous and current federal elections, why is it that the New Zealand 'mainstream' media lacks even the most elementary diligence when it comes to analysis and investigative reporting of both sides of this complex issue?
Michael Bachelard: "Sect joins Tasmanian campaign" Melbourne Age: 21.11.07: http://www.theage.com.au/
Television New Zealand: http://www.tvnz.co.nz/
Family First: http://www.familyfirst.org.nz/ Craig Young - 22nd November 2007