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National needs to come clean on Brethren

11 September 2006

National needs to come clean on Brethren

With the Exclusive Brethren now publicly advocating for a bigger role in National's 2008 campaign, Labour Strategist Pete Hodgson has called on Don Brash to come clean on his Party's relationship with the Church and his position on third party campaigns.

In a submission to the Justice and Electoral Select Committee, the Exclusive Brethren have called for their future contributions to the National Party to be exempt from rules on spending limits.

"National needs to get their story straight on the Exclusive Brethren," Pete Hodgson said. "After lying to the country about meeting them, Don Brash finally admitted that he did meet with the Brethren and that he welcomed their support.

"Dr Brash and John Key have spent most of this year trying to distance themselves from the Brethren after the public outcry during the campaign. Gerry Brownlee told Radio Live on Thursday that the Brethren were an "absolute thorn in the side" of National and that the group has no influence in the Party.

"But we now have the Brethren saying they want to play an even bigger role in National's 2008 campaign. It looks like National has been trying to publicly distance themselves from the Exclusive Brethren while privately encouraging the Church's support.

"Don Brash needs to make it clear today where he stands on the Brethren. He either wants their financial support or he doesn't – he can't have it both ways.

"He also needs to clarify his position on Labour's call for tighter rules on third party campaigns. The public has a right to know if he supports fully adopting the North American model of big money, third party smear campaigns that the Brethren introduced to New Zealand last year.

"The Brethren's $1.2 million campaign to support the National Party represented a very significant change in the conduct of New Zealand politics. Never before had such a small, wealthy group waged such a large campaign in support of any party in New Zealand. Labour and other parties will be working to tighten the rules on third party campaigns and National needs to come clean on its position."

Pete Hodgson has also raised questions about the financial support behind the Libertarianz pledge card case as it emerged over the weekend that high-priced QC Tony Molloy will be arguing the case.

"I'd be very surprised to learn that the Libertarianz have the financial means to pay Mr Molloy's fees. This raises significant questions about who is actually backing this case and what their motives are."

ENDS

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