Brash Sticks To 2005 Story Over Brethren
Following the revelation's this morning that respected researcher/investigative journalist Nicky Hager had written a currently legally suppressed book detailing the ins and outs of National under the leadership of Dr Don Brash – the National Leader kindly agreed to take a few questions from the media this afternoon.
Last week Dr Brash obtained a High Court order restraining the publication or distribution of copies of email correspondence leaked from within the National Party – some of which allegedly went into the creation of Mr Hager's book 'The Hollow Men'.
As none of the journalists present at today's short media conference were legally able to read the book which has caused Dr Brash to seek such extreme measures to suppress its content the media were somewhat hampered in what questions to actually ask Dr Brash.
However at this morning's press conference given by Mr Hager copies of 'The Hollow Men's' table of contents were released. Chapter One – presumably the chapter that will be the most hard hitting and cause Dr Brash the most trouble evidently deals with Dr Brash's uneasy alliance with the ultra fundamentalist Christian sect – the Exclusive Brethren.
Scoop Media and TV3 asked Dr Brash a number of questions related to his dealings with the Exclusive Brethren. Out of these questions it was discovered that Dr Brash had no knowledge whatsoever of any plan the Exclusive Brethren may have had to attack the Green Party prior to last years election – this was despite the fact the Exclusive Brethren had attacked the Tasmanian Green Party in exactly the same way the year before (2004).
Dr Brash also pointed out to TV3's Duncan Garner that as far as he could recall "I don't think I have ever had an email from the Exclusive Brethren."
Part of Dr Brash's reasoning for seeking the High Court injuction suppressing the book was to do with the privacy of people who may wish to send him emails.
Duncan Garner (TV3): He says this book will prove that you knew about the Brethren and the dealings with the Brethren a long time before you came clean during the election campaign?
Dr Brash: Well I'll be very interested to hear what he has to say.
Kevin List (Scoop Media): Dr Brash could you just clear up whether you knew that the Brethren were going to attack the Greens? Did you know about that?
Brash: I did not. What the Brethren told me in August 2005 - and I made that very clear several times - was that they were going to issue some pamphlets attacking the Government.
Kevin list: You knew nothing about Tasmania the year before?
Dr Brash: No! When Rod Donald showed me an anti-Green pamphlet two weeks before the election, he said did I put it out? I said no. He said, did I know who put it out? I said no.
Kevin List: So you knew nothing about the Exclusive Brethren and their attack on the Greens the year before?
Dr Brash: I did not.
Duncan Garner (TV3): Do you know in 2005 when you first met the Brethren? When they first became interested in helping the National Party in the campaign, so look at when the election was and try to remember when your first meeting was, or a phone call, or an email. Do you remember?
Dr Brash: No I don't. I don't think I have ever had an email from the Exclusive Brethren.
Unknown Reporter: Can you say when you first became aware they were going to put out those pamphlets?
Dr Brash: To the best of my recollection it would have been August 2005.
Duncan Garner: And there was nothing earlier in the year?
Dr Brash: I met them earlier in the year but there was no discussion about issuing pamphlets. And certainly not anti-Green pamphlets.
Unknown: How about other senior members of your team?
Dr Brash: To my knowledge they had no particular meetings with….
Duncan Garner: And who set up those meetings? Do you remember?
Dr Brash: They did.
Garner: They rang you?
Dr Brash: Yeah. Well they may have rung my secretary.
Duncan Garner: And you agreed to meet them why?
Dr Brash: I agree to meet anyone from the community who has a legitimate interest in talking to politicians.
Duncan Garner: And did they offer you any financial support at the meeting?
Dr Brash: No. No they didn't. No financial support was offered from or received from the Exclusive Brethren.
Duncan Garner: Have you got anything to hide Dr Brash?
Dr Brash: Not to my knowledge.
Duncan Garner: So why don't you let this book be published?
Dr Brash: He has said that he is caught by the injunction. What we have said is that it is inappropriate to have stolen material published for the world to see. People have a right to expect their correspondence to MPs will be kept confidential.
Scoop Note: Dr Brash decided not to answer a question about whether or not he intended to read the book that he has successfully suppressed.
Listen to the full press conference