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National lies to Kiwis about Brethren links

8 September 2005

National lies to Kiwis about Brethren links

Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons is calling on the National Party to apologise to the New Zealand people for lying about its relationship with the Exclusive Brethren church.

"This morning, Don Brash admitted on radio that the Exclusive Brethren had told him in advance about their anti-Green and anti-Labour leaflets," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"However, this directly contradicts several statements by Dr Brash and his deputy Gerry Brownlee over several days that they knew nothing whatsoever about the leaflets."

On at least three occasions, National representatives have been quoted as saying they knew nothing about the pamphlets before their distribution. (Quotes attached.)

"It's difficult to escape the conclusion that, ever since the leaflet story blew up on Saturday, Don Brash and Gerry Brownlee have sought to conceal the extent of their involvement with the seven Exclusive Brethren seven, and their group of financial backers, and their knowledge of the pamphlets before publication.

"This whole affair calls Dr Brash's honesty completely into question, and suggests he simply can't be trusted to tell the truth to the New Zealand people."

Ms Fitzsimons says Dr Brash had spoken in the past of how political leaders could have a "moral obligation to lie".

"This is a man who has suggested that the men who pushed the New Right reforms on to the New Zealand public were right to deceive us about their intentions. He called it a 'moral obligation to lie'. One wonders whether this whole leaflet affair is an example of such a case where Dr Brash believes he had a moral obligation to lie.

"He clearly believes that the ends justify the means. If he has to lie to the New Zealand public to achieve his desire to lead us, then he has no compunction in doing so."

Ms Fitzsimons says she is calling on Dr Brash and Mr Brownlee to apologise to the New Zealand public about their dishonesty.

"Our democracy can only function if the information being provided to the public is truthful. What we have seen over the past five days is the distribution of dishonest pamphlets that tell lies about Green Party policy, and then the National Party telling lies about their knowledge of the pamphlets.

"Kiwis deserve an apology from the National Party for their involvement in this dirtying of the electoral waters."


National on Brethren leaflets: A Changing Story

NZPA story from September 5

A spokeswoman for Dr Brash said that Dr Brash did not know anything about the leaflet campaign.

Don Brash in Press story from September 6

Brash said he knew "absolutely nothing" about the pamphlets.

"If you're interested in talking about dirty tricks, you've come to the wrong party," he said. "We haven't written that thing at all. We haven't sponsored it, we haven't financed it, we totally had nothing to do with it."

Gerry Brownlee in NZPA story on September 7

National deputy leader Gerry Brownlee said today his party had "no relationship" with the Exclusive Brethren church.

"We did not have anything to do with the preparation of these pamphlets, or the printing or the distribution of these pamphlets," he said. "We were not aware that they were coming out, have had nothing to do with it."

Don Brash in NZPA story on September 7

"We haven't written that thing at all. We haven't sponsored. We haven't finances. We totally had nothing to do with."

Don Brash on bFM this morning

BFM: Is it true that two weeks ago you met with members of the Exclusive Brethren who are behind this anti-Government leaflet campaign?

DB: I can't tell you exactly when I met with him, but yes I have met with them, I made that quite clear. Certainly, it was in the last month, and they told me they were utterly fed up with the Government and I agreed with them.

BFM: There was talk that there was some prayer at this meeting. Is that true that happened?

DB: No, there was no prayer at that meeting, not that I observed, but there may have been people praying silently. The Herald report this morning that we met for prayer is quite wrong. At least, I did not say that at any point. What I did say is that they indicated that they'd pray for me and for the National Party.

BFM: Apart from an indication that they were going to pray for you, was anything else of a campaigning nature discussed?

DB: Oh, yes, they indicated they were going to campaign against the Government. They were going to issue some pamphlets, but I did not read those pamphlets and have had absolutely no part in reading them, writing them, funding them, or distributing them and it's high time the media pointed that out. Labour and the Greens have been arguing that the NP was behind those pamphlets and we were not.

BFM: So you were aware that this group was going to use other things besides the power of prayer to support the National Party?

DB: I knew they were going to issue some pamphlets attacking the Government and I said, "that's tremendous, I'm delighted by that because the Govt is lousy and should be changed"

The Greens have published a full point-by-point rebuttal of the pamphlet at
www.greens.org.nz/searchdocs/other9194.html. The seven outright lies contained in the pamphlet are:

Claim: Introduce capital gains on family homes

A lie. The Greens do NOT have a policy to introduce a capital gains tax, let alone on the family home. We do believe the Government should properly investigate such a tax, as it is already in use in a number of countries including Australia, but should only pursue it if it can be proven to be a positive here.

Claim: Cut defence spending by 50 percent and disarm our forces

A lie: We do not suggest disarming our forces. The '50 percent' claim is based on our 1999 opposition to National buying F16 fighters. Currently we support some refocussing of spending towards creating a civil defence, peacekeeping and resource protection capacity. If implemented, the amount of money the Government spends on making the world a safer place (defence, peacebuilding, foreign aid) would not decrease.

Claim: Spend roading money on uneconomic and novel public transport systems.

A Lie: There is no such thing as 'roading money', funds are allocated to the Government's 'land transport fund', for use on roading and public transport. Since 1999 the amount of money spent on roading has increased by 67 percent and the amount of money spent on public transport has increased by 510 percent.

All our proposals are based on proven approaches that have delivered better transport around the world.

Claim: Block construction of vital new roads with tortuous RMA regulations.

A Lie: The Resource Management Act does not 'block' the construction of any new roads, it is a process for allowing everyone affected by a new project to have a say. National proposes that new developments should be rail-roaded through, even against strong opposition from local communities, environmental organisations, and adjacent landowners. This is an affront to democracy.

Claim: Push high country farmers off their lease-hold land.

A Lie: The Greens do not propose to 'push' anybody off lease-hold land. The Greens do support an investigation of the current tenure review process, to ensure that conservation values are protected, and that New Zealand's natural heritage is not lost forever.

Claim: Permit the right-to-roam over private property

A Lie: The Greens' land access policy specifically excludes the 'right to roam'. We propose to appoint an access commissioner to build relationships between land owners and land users, and negotiate specific access arrangements.

Claim: Offer financial assistance to cannabis growers for alternative employment.

A Lie: Our drugs policy does not include offering financial assistance to cannabis growers. This is wrong and offensive. However, we do believe that industrial hemp - which has no psychoactive properties at all - is a worthwhile crop that New Zealand should investigate developing.

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