Article Title:Exclusive Brethren? Or the Usual Suspects?
Category:Comment
Author or Credit:Craig Young
Published on:26th April 2008 - 05:31 pm
Published by:GayNZ.com
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Story ID:5866
Text:Last weekend, the Exclusive Brethren announced that they didn't intend to campaign against the Clark administration this year, given that most opinion polls suggest its defeat. According to the Ruth Laugesen SST article that broke the news, most of their current political objectives are absolutely absurd. The Civil Unions Act and Prostitution Law Reform Act are fait accompli's, and cannot be repealed, and even Leader of the Opposition John Key has ruled out such options. However, the extremist sect is on surer ground when it comes to greater funding for private religious schools, still a National Party education policy platform. The National Party of 2008 won't be the National Party of 2005, despite the presence of Bill English, Judith Collins and Gerry Brownlee on the front benches. However, it does need to finda capable and intelligent social liberal akin to Katherine O'Regan back in the nineties, and Katherine Rich, for most of this decade. There will be no backward momentum on the above issues, but nor will there be any forward momentum, as advertised by Key's flip-flop over what seemed to be an initially favourable stance toward inclusive adoption reform. Chris Finlayson (National shadow Attorney General) supports reform of the provocation alibi of "homosexual panic defence" within the Crimes Act, but there have been no corroborating statements from his colleagues. It doesn't look as if anyone is keen to resurrect Gordon Copeland's same-sex marriage ban bill, either. However, this assumes National will win the next election. Some opinion polls report a surge in Green Party support, which may be related to current concerns over climate change, drought and whaling. It might be possible that the Greens will expand their voter share significantly, saving the centre-left from the Opposition benches, as happened under Germany's version of MMP earlier this decade. So, what about the Exclusive Brethren's claims of non-interference? I'd note that this is linked to National's current (overinflated?) polling, which may be beginning to finally subside. They would be foolhardy to try to subvert the current Electoral Finance Act, especially as the National Party was wrong about alleged "hackers" providing Nicky Hager with information that was published in The Hollow Men (2006). His source may provide a tripwire if any National caucus member tries to resurrect the ungainly relationship between their party and that sect. As matters stand, their antics last year may have contributed to an anti-Liberal electorate backlash that hampered the centre-right's chances during Australia's federal elections. But what if it's not the Exclusive Brethren this time? Back in February, Dierdre Mussen provided a useful profile of the current lead Christian Right pressure group, Family First. Mussen noted that Family First had three major business backers- Integrity Trade Services (Christchurch- fridges, air conditioning and electrical goods): Frontline Technologies (Auckland- printing machinery supply); and Mortgage Express, a Harcourts real estate subsidiary. It might be prudent for LGBT and other concerned social liberal voters to organise a boycott of all three, to insure that Family First's strident anti-Labour rhetoric is hampered through insufficient campaign funds. As for the Maxim Institute, it still looks rather anemic, but we shall have to monitor its website, and see, closer to the forthcoming election. As for the rest of the Christian Right, it seems strangely subdued. The Kiwi Party's Gordon Copeland had an anti-abortion bill defeated by voice vote, with little fanfare from anti-abortionists Voice for Life and Right to Life New Zealand. SPCS has mutated into an 'educational' group and cannot lobby due to its Charities Act 2004 restrictions. Family Party reps are trudging around Mangere, trying to attract attention in South Auckland. Still, I suspect it'll all rev up again, come October or November. Recommended: Dierdre Mussen: "Family Values" Sunday Star Times 24.02.08: A8 Colin Espiner: "No Email Hacker Detected" Christchurch Press 17.04.08: A4 Ruth Laugeson: "Brethren Hold Off on Campaigning: Groups Target Electoral Act" Sunday Star Times 20.04.08: A5 Nicky Hager; The Hollow Men: Nelson: Craig Potton: 2006. Craig Young - 26th April 2008    
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