Sect pair show hand

The two frontmen who authorised the onslaught of anti-Green advertisements in the name of the Exclusive Brethren yesterday denied they were funded by the religious sect.

Scottsdale furniture store manager Trevor Christian and Scottsdale pig farmer Roger Unwin wrote a public letter implying that they had personally funded all of their advertising campaign.

“Whilst we are members of a Christian fellowship known as the Exclusive Brethren, our campaign was not initiated, controlled, funded or endorsed by the congregation in any way,” the men wrote.

“We believe government to be of God [and] although our conscience precludes us from voting, it equally creates a responsibility to testify to persons in government and the community to uphold right Christian principles.”

Mr Christian later refused to elaborate on how much the Exclusive Brethren advertising _ which lobbied against Green policies on homosexuals, gender change and same-sex marriages _ had cost and who had funded it.

But he did explain that the reference to “congregation” in his letter to the media referred to the broader international movement of the Exclusive Brethren and not just the Scottsdale chapter.

Greens national leader and senator Bob Brown yesterday raged against the Exclusive Brethren and their anti-Green campaign.

He called the Exclusive Brethren a shadowy, secretive, bigoted sect which instead of being pro-family had actually broken up families and caused suicides by their hard-line actions.

Senator Brown said the Exclusive Brethren had an obligation to openly declare their political affiliations, agenda and funding source.

But Tasmanian Electoral Commissioner Bruce Taylor said that under the Tasmanian Electoral Act there was no legal obligation for any group, individual or party to disclose how much they had spent on political advertising or where the money came from in the case of Lower House elections.

Meanwhile, funding of the glossy election advertising campaign by the anonymous group Tasmanians for a Better Future, advocating a vote for majority government, continues to be scrutinised.

The group was fronted by Hobart public relations man Tony Harrison and his organisation Corporate Communications.

It was revealed yesterday that Mr Harrison, a former national president of the Public Relations Institute of Australia and director of the Tasmanian branch, might have breached the organisation’s strict code of ethics.

A key part of this code is that all members must “identify the source of funding for any public communication they initiate or for which they act as a conduit”.

Mr Harrison said on Tuesday he had revealed the source of funding for the pro-Labor campaign by identifying his backers as “Tasmanians for A Better Future”.

Public Relations Institute of Australia president Annabelle Warren said last night the code of ethics was regarded seriously by her organisation’s 1000 members.

While declining to comment on Mr Harrison’s alleged breach of the PRIA code, Ms Warren said anyone with complaints about the behaviour of one its members could contact the institute.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Mercury, Australia
Mar. 23, 2006
Sue Neales, Chief Reporter
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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday March 23, 2006.
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