A response to the HRC

The Human Roghts Commission rejected my complaint (see previous post).

Despite me pointing out several instances of Labour’s intolerant behaviour they chose to focus instead on what was said in the house.

So me and my trusty Google have compiled a brief list and quotes as follows, since the HRC seems incredibly inept at finding things for themselves.

Herald article by Audrey Young quoting Prime Minister Helen Clark, September 12 2006

“We would expect it will not be easy for the Exclusive Brethren to mount the kind of campaign they did last time,"

"real corruption occurred when wealthy interests were able to manipulate elections.”

Helen Clark yesterday depicted that campaign as the church and National "driving a bulldozer" through the intent and spirit of the Electoral Act, which imposed spending caps to prevent big money manipulating campaigns.

NZ Herald article by by Audrey Young quoting Prime Minister Helen Clark, September 23 2006

The Brethren had "stooped to the lowest possible level" to try to defeat Labour.

12 December 2006 Press Release from Ruth Dyson

"I note the Exclusive Bretheren sought to change the law in an attempt to bar unions from all of their workplaces, regardless of size. They describe employment relationships as ‘master and servant’.

"This unsuccessful attempt was supported by the National Party. Considering Kate Wilkinson and the Brethren’s close associations, I wonder what other policy concessions she and the National Party might be willing to grant them?"

NZ Herald article by by Audrey Young quoting Prime Minister Helen Clark, August 24 2006

Helen Clark said that unlike National, Labour had not accepted money from "exclusive religious cults" and corporates, and that that money had enabled National to free up its own parliamentary spending.

TVNZ September 23, Pete Hodgson

Hodgson says he went through the entire election campaign claiming he supports mainstream New Zealand, and yet the Exclusive Brethren are as far from mainstream as you can get.

Listener October 7-13 2006 Editorial

Lately, Labour Minister Ruth Dyson has also found a way to join the government’s chorus, suggesting that Brethren-owned workplaces, the prime beneficiaries of a provision in the law that allows certain exemptions from union visits, might lose that entitlement. Many people will not have known before this that the provision even existed, and will wonder why it should. But to raise the matter now leads to the inescapable conclusion that Labour’s motivation is nothing more than spiteful retaliation. That would be a gross misuse of the government’s power.

Lianne Dalziel – speech to Labour Party Annual Conference, 27/10/2006

The irony is that the Exclusive Brethren do not fit the definition of mainstream – they stand apart and they are intolerant of difference.

Michael Cullen – speech to Labour Party Annual Conference, 29/10/2006

This tapestry of peoples we call home is a New Zealand Labour can be proud of.
But, of course, not all New Zealanders are. Beneath all the recent breathless furore over the funding of political communications has run a deeper and darker subtext. That is the story of how a small, unrepresentative, intolerant, self-confessed exclusive group bought themselves a political party and nearly captured a nation by stealth.

I have tried hard to be tolerant of the intolerant, for that is always the profound dilemma of the true liberal. After all, there are times in the last year or so when I’ve felt a sneaking sympathy for people who don’t read newspapers, watch television, or listen to the radio.

And as long as they leave others alone, don’t impose their views, and let people leave their group freely then there is no reason the Exclusive Brethren should concern us.

But one can’t ignore a group which deliberately published lies about both Labour and the Greens. One can’t ignore the fact that, in many provincial seats in particular, the Exclusive Brethren engaged in deceptive and dishonest push-polling which may have had a significant impact on the results.

Nor should we ignore the hypocrisy of people who claim not to vote but tried to buy themselves a government; of people who will not fight for their country in time of war, but falsely condemned Labour for not providing adequate defence systems; of people who claim to support traditional family values, but have been pretty obviously party to helping spread rumours and lies about people’s families; of people who call the internet a conduit of evil communications to be shunned and, at the same time, run a website.

As deputy leader of your party it is nice to know sometimes people follow me. But not ones paid for by the Brethren please!

Above all, we cannot ignore asking National some hard questions. The two most important of these is who knew what and when about the Exclusive Brethren’s campaign? And, what was the Brethren seeking from a National Government?

We know Dr Brash has lied at least twice about his links with the Exclusive Brethren, both before and after the election. But other National leaders – including Mr Key – have yet to come clean about their involvement with the sect. We need a clear statement about how much collusion there was to avoid the spending limits in the Electoral Act. We need to know how much National was involved in designing the push-polling that was so important in many marginal seats.

And why did the sect spend such huge sums of money, and devote so many hours of time, to influencing the outcome of a process they themselves do not deign to participate in?

Was it to reverse human rights advances passed under this Government? And, if so, what do the small band of liberal National MPs make of that? Was it to reduce the rights of trade unions? Was it to somehow underpin some of their stranger beliefs such as not sharing a driveway with a neighbour, not sharing a sewer if they connect before reaching city property, not taking out annuities, not eating with non-sect members, or not allowing married women to engage in paid employment unless their husbands are unable to do so.

Perhaps, deep down, the denial of human rights and the subservience of women in particular are matters of little consequence to Dr Brash and Mr Key and many of their colleagues. After all, if you can wish a whole ethnic identity – and, at that New Zealand’s indigenous one – out of existence, as Dr Brash recently did, you are clearly capable of any amount of strangeness.
Much of the media has been strangely unwilling to dig deep into these questions. There almost seems to have been an assumption that because the Brethren used their own money there is no issue of public accountability here.
Well there is. Dr Brash’s private life is his own affair. But his public life, his links with big business and the more extreme forms of the religious right, are all of ours as New Zealanders.

Lianne Dalziel – Speech to NZ Diversity Forum 21 August 2006 at 2:20pm

Many New Zealand women, who see these garments, see a symbol of male oppression. Exclusive Brethren women wear their headscarves as an outward sign of their religion and their exclusivity.

Rick Barker 2 August 2006

According to Brash if you don’t share the ‘bedrock value’ of "legal equality of the sexes"(3) then "perhaps New Zealand isn’t the place you should move to". Mr Barker wonders whether Brash has said this to his good friends the Exclusive Brethren, who believe that "Fathers are the breadwinners. Mothers stay at home".

Lianne Dalziel 25/01/2006

That is why Don Brash used the language of the ‘mainstream’ – it’s where he is comfortable. That is why he had no trouble accepting help from the non-voting, non-participating Exclusive Brethren, who have a very clear position on the place of women.

NZ First Press Release 11 October 2006

“New Zealand First is urging the Labour-led government to revisit its policy which caps the total funding for independent schools and which creates such injustices that the Exclusive Brethren situation has,”

Steve Maharey, Press Release 11 October 2006

"This would have doubled funding to Exclusive Brethren schools, providing an additional $4.5 million over three years. There is no policy rationale for increasing funding for independent schools only, but there does seem to be a political one.

Pete Hodgson on Agenda TVNZ 2 September 2006

As far as the greater issue about whether or not the Exclusive Brethren have got any role in New Zealand and more importantly whether or not Dr Brash has got any role in the future of New Zealand politics given that he is able to remain somehow aligned with this most extraordinary group of people, and as well as that continue his division and corrosion of New Zealand politics as he has for these past two and a half years, I think we will see developments presently, but I do also think that the Exclusive Brethren – we need to identify that the Exclusive Brethren have been active in Tasmania, in Sweden and that just a few days ago the National Party of New South Wales said they would have nothing to do with them. Dr Brash from the National Party of New Zealand needs to say the same thing.

Steve Maharey, Agenda TVNZ 2 October 2006

No I think it’s about transparency because if you take the case of the Exclusive Brethren I think what people are worried about here is a very secretive group obviously who have a large amount of money and people who are involved here seem to have spent about 1.2 million dollars and I think people just look at that and say hold on we’re a small country and we’re used to being an open democracy we don’t want anybody buying elections, we don’t want anybody putting money up and hoping they’ll get a return, so I think the more transparency the better and that goes for all parties.

“I think the biggest murky thing is the Exclusive Brethren”

“…it boils down to some issues which are a little stinky and I think those are mainly around the Exclusive Brethren…”

David Parker, Speech to Waitaki Girls High School 15 Spetember 2005

 The Exclusive Brethren is not a moderate church group. They’ve been fairly described in one of New Zealand’s leading newspapers as the Taliban of New Zealand’s religious sects. They have to marry within the sect. They must not watch TV. Women are not permitted to work outside the home. They are not allowed to go to university. They’re not even allowed to read novels.

Tony Milne, Youth Vice President New Zealand Council (NZLP) 8 April 2006

We experienced it in the influence of the small but extreme exclusive Brethren Sect and their “push polling” for National in our provincial seats,