Brethren pamphlet has Aussie double

By Kevin Taylor

An anti-Greens pamphlet circulated by the Exclusive Brethren is nearly identical to one attacking the Greens in Tasmania before last year's Australian federal election.

Both are headlined "Beware!" and "The Green Delusion". The subject matter is similar and some sentences are exactly the same.

In Auckland last Wednesday seven men from the reclusive church owned up to being behind a $500,000 anti-Greens and anti-Labour pamphlet campaign.

National leader Don Brash got into trouble when he initially denied knowing who was behind the pamphlets, only to later reveal he was given the information during a meeting with Brethren representatives last month.

One of the seven, Greg Mason, told the Herald on Sunday their pamphlets were created from scratch, without overseas inspiration. He refused to comment to the Herald yesterday.

Green Party co-leader Rod Donald said Mr Mason's denial defied belief. Not only did the pamphlets have the same headlines but they were laid out with the same typeface, and the thrust of the content was the same.

"The Australian flyer confirms our original suspicion that we are victims of an imported dirty tricks campaign. Who is really behind these pamphlets? What exactly is the Australian connection?"

Australian Green Senator Bob Brown said the revelation was extraordinary and the party would look anew at the issue.

They had only made the discovery last week when a copy of the New Zealand pamphlet was sent to them.

Mr Brown said tens of thousands of pamphlets were circulated in Tasmania before the federal election without anyone discovering who was behind them.

The state had given the Greens the best chance of winning a second senate seat. "We did finally win by the skin of our teeth, but we should have won comfortably.

"The campaign against the Greens ... was a big campaign involving the Liberal Party, a section of the business community and the religious right," he said.

The only identification on the Australian pamphlet was that it was authorised by "M. William Mackenzie, 11 Baden Powell Place, North Rocks, NSW 2151".

National's general manager, Steven Joyce, said he was not commenting on the pamphlets.

But he struck back at Labour strategist Pete Hodgson's claim that Dr Brash needed to front up about push-polling, a technique that tries to influence or alter voters' views under the guise of a poll.

Mr Hodgson was referring to a Herald on Sunday report that a 14-year-old boy who identified himself as a pupil at the Brethren-run Westmount School in Auckland had rung a retired Hamilton woman connected with Labour. The boy urged her to vote for Dr Brash because of the moral decline of New Zealand under Labour.

Mr Hodgson said push-polling was used to spread misinformation and lies to influence voters and it was a hallmark of National's Australian advisers, Lynton Crosby and Mark Textor.

But Mr Joyce denied National was getting advice from Mr Crosby. He said National was on the record for months saying Mr Textor was doing polling, but it was not push-polling or anything like it.

He accused Labour of doing its own push-polling.

Meanwhile, National deputy leader Gerry Brownlee clarified comments he made on TVNZ's Agenda programme on Saturday that an "audit" had shown some National volunteers were Exclusive Brethren.

He said yesterday the word "audit" was inappropriate. "Checks" had been made in Christchurch and Dunedin.

Asked how many they found, he said: "I haven't got a number".

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