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Brash feigns astonishment to hide dirty tactics

Hon Pete Hodgson
Labour Party strategist

11 September 2005 Media Statement

Brash feigns astonishment to hide dirty tactics

Don Brash needs to take responsibility for the actions of his party, and front up to the people of New Zealand on the dirty tactics being used by National in the election campaign, Labour MP Pete Hodgson said today.

“Reports of Exclusive Brethren members as young as 14 being used to push poll on behalf of the National Party once again contradict Brash’s claim that there are no links between National and the Exclusive Brethren.

“All Brash can muster in response is that he would be ‘astonished and concerned’ if the reports are true. Just like he initially claimed to know nothing of last week’s smear pamphlets before revealing that he’d been fully briefed, he is feigning ignorance to avoid answering why National is push polling.

“Push polling is a dirty tactic in which party activists pose as pollsters, and spread misinformation and lies to try and influence voters. It is a hallmark of National’s Australian advisors, Lynton Crosby and Mark Textor.

“Brash is the leader of his party. It is the job of the leader to know what is going on in his own campaign, and be up front with the New Zealand public about it. It is not credible for a leader to be as disconnected from his party as Dr Brash claims to be.

“As the contradictions continue it is even more difficult to believe what he is saying. Brash must come clean on what matters he has discussed with the Exclusive Brethren, particularly at his most recent meeting with them only a matter of weeks ago. Was polling discussed? What was actually said about the pamphlets?”

Mr Hodgson released a copy of an Exclusive Brethren manifesto, sent to the Prime Minister, which listed five key areas of ‘critical’ concern for the sect: defence, decentralisation, immigration, superannuation, and taxation.

Yet, Mr Hodgson said, the Exclusive Brethrens’ anti-government pamphlets focus on topics like the Green Party and its relationship with Labour, and not on issues which the Brethren manifesto identified as ‘critical’ for New Zealand

“One would expect that if the Exclusive Brethren were to take the extraordinary step of becoming engaged in a political campaign, they would focus on the issues which they believe to be the most important.

“For example, the Exclusive Brethren believe – like National – that New Zealand should allow nuclear ship visits, support the war in Iraq, rejoin Anzus, and request that American troops be based in New Zealand.

“These were among the ‘suggested initiatives’ that were outlined in the Exclusive Brethren submission to the Prime Minister.

“Yet these policies do not appear in the Exclusive Brethren pamphlet on security being distributed this weekend. Nor would National want these issues raised, given the discomfort they cause.

“Instead, the Brethrens’ campaign focuses on issues such as the Green Party and its relationship with Labour, which just coincidentally happens to have been a major focus of the National Party during the campaign.

“Don Brash has repeatedly tried to scare voters about the Greens and Labour – to little avail. I can’t recall ‘green’ issues ever being an issue of concern to the Exclusive Brethren at any time in my political career.

“We know National met with the Exclusive Brethrens on a series of occasions. Don Brash has admitted to four meetings.

“He needs to explain whether National advised the Exclusive Brethren on which topics they should focus on in their secretive campaign, and what to avoid.”


ENDS


*The following manifesto was prepared by the Exclusive Brethren in 2003 and sent to the Prime Minister.

See http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/0509/brethren_manifesto.pdf

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