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Don Brash must go

23 September 2006

Don Brash must go

Don Brash's refusal to denounce his links with the Exclusive Brethren despite proof that they have hired private investigators to follow Cabinet Ministers and their families is astonishing and warrants his resignation, Labour strategist Pete Hodgson said today.

On TVNZ's Agenda this morning, Don Brash refused to rule out future work with the Brethren, couldn't recall what he had discussed with senior Brethren members in private meetings, admitted to regular association with Brethren and took the extraordinary step of claiming his association with the Brethren was comparable to his dealings with Presbyterians and Methodists.

"The news of the past 24 hours that the Exclusive Brethren have conducted secret investigations into senior ministers and their families represents a new low point in New Zealand politics," Pete Hodgson said.

"New Zealanders right across the political spectrum – including National MPs – have denounced the Brethren's actions. Don Brash has said that he finds their actions 'deplorable', but is refusing to end his political partnership with the Church.

"Brash admitted this morning to meeting privately with the Brethren at least once since the election campaign, but couldn't 'remember' where the meeting was held, when it was held or what was discussed. I'll take him at his word that reports from National Party sources that he met privately with senior Brethren this week aren't true, but he needs to clarify exactly what he's discussed in the past and why he didn't tell his caucus about it.

"Brash also dismissed reports from National Party sources that diary entries about meetings with the Brethren in the lead up to the 2005 election were deleted. This is welcome news as Dr Brash can now confirm when these meetings took place.

"Significantly, if it's true the entries weren't deleted Dr Brash can also tell us if his meetings with the Exclusive Brethren took place before or after the Brethren emailed then Chief Electoral Officer David Henry on 8 June. The email has raised suspicions that the Brethren had sophisticated political advice before seeking guidance from Henry.

"Beyond the integrity questions raised by the ongoing relationship between Dr Brash and the Brethren, today's Agenda interview has shown that the policy divisions between Brash and his Finance Spokesman are beyond repair.
"Don Brash and John Key disagree over whether or not New Zealanders have a right to a minimum wage and whether we should have mandatory savings schemes. Key has already said publicly that he has lost confidence in Dr Brash over recent weeks.

"Many New Zealanders will be feeling the same way this morning. The fact that Brash feels he cannot afford to disentangle himself from the Brethren is deeply worrying. There must be some reason that Don Brash finds his relationship with the Brethren inextricable.

"Don Brash's term as leader of the National Party has had a corrosive effect on New Zealand's democracy – the events of the past few weeks are symptoms of the politics his leadership has brought to Parliament. He needs to resign for the sake of his Party, for Parliament, for himself and for the country."


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