The Hollow Men: Chapter 1: The Path of Principle

National and the Exclusive Brethren

On the evening of Monday 7 August 2006 the leader of the New Zealand National Party, Don Brash, gave a strong speech about the difference between his party and the Labour government. ‘In our quest for victory, we choose the harder path, the path of principle and persuasion over the path of bribery and corruption,’ he told his Christchurch audience. ‘Corruption is not a word you use outside Parliament without being very sure of your ground. But I feel very safe, if rather sad, in pointing out that Helen Clark’s Labour government is quite simply the most corrupt government in New Zealand history.’1

These were lines he was soon repeating in Parliament, as National MPs launched increasingly loud attacks on the government’s integrity. Prime Minister Helen Clark had ‘misappropriate[d] half a million dollars of taxpayers’ money to fund her campaign’. His colleagues, following an obviously pre-arranged plan, chanted, ‘Pay the money back! Pay the money back!’ Brash went on: ‘Helen Clark stole the election…. She should pay the money back…. She should then resign, go to the country and have a fair election.’2 The scandal revealed ‘a degree of corruption and dishonesty never before seen in New Zealand politics’.3

Labour deserved to be attacked over the use of its Parliamentary Services budget for electioneering (its election pledge card). It had stretched the rules beyond credibility, and was later forced to pay back hundreds of thousands of dollars. But what made the National Party attacks remarkable – in fact, breathtakingly audacious – was that these politicians had guilty election secrets of their own. The senior members of the National Party obviously believed that their own unprincipled and unlawful actions, and their dishonesty, would never come back to haunt them.

The story begins at the most dramatic moment of New Zealand’s 2005 election, when Brash was forced to admit that his party knew in advance about a controversial Exclusive Brethren-funded election advertising campaign. He had spent the week denying any knowledge of this or any links to it but by late morning on the Thursday, strained and exasperated, he admitted to journalists that he had known about it after all. He insisted that he was ‘not a liar’ and said he had only been told about the plans in a brief meeting with Exclusive Brethren representatives a few weeks earlier. But that was not true and nor were the statements made by his colleagues. The way politicians and political staff respond to a sudden crisis and unwelcome publicity tells us much about whether they follow the path of principle.

 

 

The first hint of interaction between National and the Exclusive Brethren was an obscure item on the agenda of National’s Campaign Strategy Meeting on Tuesday, 5 April 2005. Held in the National Party’s ‘War Room’, on the second floor of the old Parliament Building, the meeting began with more internal polling results showing National still stuck behind Labour. The campaign team, which consisted of five middle-aged men, faced the perennial problem that, if only men voted, they would be neck and neck with Labour. If only middle-aged men voted, they would be set to win that year’s election resoundingly. But once women voters were added, National was well behind.

The five campaign strategists who gathered that afternoon are central to the story. Murray McCully, assistant to the leader, had long before gained control of the party’s strategy and was deferred to by everyone on matters of tactics and spin. Gerry Brownlee, deputy leader, was a bull of a man who was relied upon to play the attack role in Parliament. Steven Joyce, the campaign manager, was a millionaire businessman turned party official who oversaw fundraising and all campaign activities. Richard Long, chief of staff, was in charge of media management and Peter Keenan was chief strategist and speechwriter for Brash.

One of the items on the agenda that Tuesday was the bland-sounding ‘Outside Groups – Defence and Education’, which referred to quiet contact between National and various seemingly independent ‘outside groups’ that supported the party and were willing to provide support to its election campaign. The ‘education’ part referred to relationships between National and the private schools lobby, the New Zealand Business Roundtable’s Education Forum and the Auckland-based thinktank Maxim.4 National had produced policies promising, once it was in government, to shift money from public to private schools; these lobby groups were planning actions to help National win the election.

But what was the ‘Defence’ part?

Unbeknown to the rest of New Zealand, a large anonymously funded advertising campaign was scheduled to begin at the end of that week – early April 2005 – stridently attacking Labour’s defence and anti-nuclear policies. The ads would be saying things that many senior National Party people privately believed, but which they could not say openly without losing public support. Only the National Party campaign strategy team (and possibly the right-wing ACT Party) had received prior warning of the advertising and knew who was behind it.

The campaign involved delivery of about a million pamphlets to homes around the country and large advertisements in major newspapers. Headed ‘Wake-up call for all New Zealanders’, they called for repeal of the ‘illogical, impractical and totally unrealistic’ nuclear ship ban, said the Iraq War was a case of the United States using its military power ‘for the good of mankind’ and urged closer alliance with the United States, ‘bastion of the free world’. They accused the Prime Minister (incorrectly) of reducing the country’s defence spending and said that ‘as a result New Zealand is practically defenceless’.5 The only contact on the pamphlets and advertisements was ‘A. Smith’ at an Auckland post office box address, giving no way to identify or reach anyone involved.6

The $350,000 for this anti-Labour government campaign came from such a strange and unlikely source that no one even guessed: the small Exclusive Brethren church, whose members do not vote and who, for much of their history, have stayed away from involvement in worldly politics.7

On the morning of the strategy meeting, chief of staff Richard Long had sent an email to Don Brash, Gerry Brownlee and other senior MPs: ‘It might pay the caucus to know that the Brethren advertising campaign to repair defence links (bring back the ships) will start this Friday’. Long said the Brethren had ‘agreed today to publicly take ownership of the campaign, to avoid conspiracy theories and to prevent the finger being pointed at us’. National was trying hard to avoid being questioned about its nuclear policy views during an election year.

Long, a former editor of Wellington’s Dominion newspaper, had arranged with the Brethren that they would have a consistent line in the event of media questions about National’s prior knowledge of the advertising. He wrote to Brash and Brownlee: ‘To other questions, on whether they consulted us, the [Brethren] have agreed to say that they have advised all political parties’. It is hard to believe that National really thought the Exclusive Brethren had told Labour about the campaign. Long advised on what MPs should say if questioned on links to the advertisements. ‘I suggest we and our MPs should say simply that it is a church campaign, National is certainly not sponsoring it. We did know in advance it was going ahead as we were advised along with, as we understand it, all political parties.’8

Later that week Long wrote again, reminding Brash of the agreed line over prior knowledge of the advertisements: ‘Don, just a reminder that the Brethren adverts start tomorrow (in the NZ Herald) in case you get questions. Suggestion: I understand this is a campaign by members of the Brethren Church. My staff and other political parties were, I understand, informed in advance that it was planned.’9

Long’s lines were not required. The Brethren’s involvement remained anonymous and secret. The National Party people kept their knowledge of the anti-Labour campaign to themselves. The Exclusive Brethren and National’s campaign committee now knew it was possible to have hundreds of thousands of dollars of third-party political advertising without having to reveal to the public who was behind it.10

 

 

The sudden rise in Exclusive Brethren political activism can be traced to the world head of the church – known as the Elect Vessel and the Lord’s Representative on Earth – Bruce Hales, who took control when his father died in 2002. The Exclusive Brethren are strictly hierarchical and no major decisions are made without Hales’s approval or direction. Ex-members have described how, some years ago, the Elect Vessel ordered that all Exclusive Brethren leave South Africa, and they did. In New Zealand they were similarly instructed to leave the suburb of Miramar and move to the northern Wellington suburbs, which they also obediently did.

Soon after Hales took control, anonymous Brethren political advertising started to appear in different countries simultaneously. In the weeks before the Australian election of October 2004, anonymous brochures and newspaper advertisements appeared in various parts of Australia backing Liberal leader and Prime Minister John Howard and attacking the Labor and Green Parties. No one realised at the time that they were from the Exclusive Brethren. In the United States the Brethren’s Thanksgiving 2004 Committee spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on newspaper advertisements supporting George Bush and a Republican Senate candidate from Florida, Mel Martinez.11 At the same time as the New Zealand ‘Wake-up call’ campaign, leaflets and newspaper advertisements throughout Canada attacked MPs who supported same-sex marriage legislation. This vigorous campaign was sponsored by an untraceable group called Concerned Canadian Parents, using a post office box in a Toronto Seven-Eleven convenience store.12 Only many months later was the Brethren link uncovered. Campaigns in other countries followed and there are probably more such campaigns in countries with Exclusive Brethren communities that have not yet been linked to the church.13 Each of the known campaigns cost in the vicinity of a million dollars, none mentioned the Exclusive Brethren and, at least for a while, they succeeded in remaining anonymous.

It was no coincidence that the New Zealand Exclusive Brethren started the same kind of anonymous campaigning at the same time. The first example of this was during 2004, when the church joined a range of other fundamentalist Christian groups opposing the Labour government’s Civil Union Bill. Now law, this provided for a new legal form of marriage (without using that word) for de facto and same-sex couples.

Exclusive Brethren advertising appeared in December 2004, urging all MPs ‘to recognise the Supremacy of God’ and not ‘institutionalise immorality’ by voting for the bill.14 We know from internal National Party communications that Don Brash and his staff had contact with the Exclusive Brethren by then and were tipped off about the anti-Civil Union Bill advertising. When an advertisement appeared in the Wellington newspaper on 9 December 2004, Brash’s assistant Bryan Sinclair wrote: ‘full page ad in today’s Dom Post is your Brethren friends’.15 Brash dropped his support for the bill just before the final vote in Parliament (see Chapter 4).

As with the later campaign, this advertisement gave no hint of the Brethren involvement. It was ‘authorised’ by ten named husbands and wives and included the post office box number of an Auckland office furniture company.16 Several of those named people were prominent Brethren whose identities emerged during the election campaign but at that stage no one appeared to have recognised the Exclusive Brethren involvement.

Contacts between the Brethren and National became increasingly frequent after Brash’s change of heart about the Civil Union Bill. At noon on Monday 14 February 2005 he agreed to meet Doug Watt and ‘his colleagues from the Brethren Church’ in his parliamentary office. At that point, however, some National Party staff were sceptical about the worth of contact with the Brethren. While discussing the planned meeting, appointments secretary Anne Small wrote to Don Brash: ‘Personally, I question the wisdom of devoting time to a group of people who don’t vote and who won’t contribute financially’. She suggested they be inflexible about the meeting date offered and only give the Brethren 45 minutes. She appeared to have organised meetings with them before as she noted her wish ‘to restrict their time (give them an inch, they take a mile!)’.17 Chief of staff Richard Long questioned Don Brash’s openness to the Brethren later in February. ‘Anne turned down the repeat visit from the Brethren, but you responded positively to a direct approach. Complete waste of time.’18 But discussions were soon occurring on the Brethren’s election advertising campaign and the contact between National and the church accelerated over the last six months before the election.

The next contacts were between National Party staff and the Brethren about the ‘Wake-up call’ campaign in April 2005 and then, two weeks after that, Brash met them again to receive ‘a package’ during a visit to South Auckland, which is one of the Exclusive Brethren strongholds, particularly around Mangere Bridge. National’s Manurewa candidate, Fepulea’i Ulua’ipou-O-Malo Aiono, contacted Brash’s parliamentary office to pass on the request for the meeting.

Ms Aiono, herself a member of the Mount Zion Assembly of God and a volunteer for the Otahuhu Salvation Army Corps,19 wrote to Bryan Sinclair on 21 April 2005 saying she had ‘just received a phone call from the Closed Brethren in South Auckland. They would like three minutes with Dr Brash on Saturday at some point in private and to deliver a package.’ Sinclair replied: ‘On the Brethren, not sure where they can do this. There is not really any private meeting place at Otara markets…. Can they please make themselves known to me/you at the markets? I am sure we can find a spot away from the crowd where he could receive their package (as long as it is nothing bad!!!) at, say, 11am just before he departs. They are welcome to call me on the day.’20

This became the pattern for a series of meetings over the following months, when Exclusive Brethren representatives and Brash would snatch opportunities for meetings as he was travelling and electioneering. He met Doug Watt and Ron Hickmott at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast address at Christchurch’s Millennium Hotel on 24 May, Andy Smith (the ‘A. Smith’ of the advertisements and pamphlets) at a Napier Chamber of Commerce luncheon on the Mission Estate the following day and, later, senior Brethren in the Koru Club Lounge at Wellington Airport.

There is no record of what was in the package handed over at the Otara Markets but from this time on discussions were under way about the Brethren’s planned election activities – particularly their advertising campaign that would dwarf the previous Civil Union and ‘Wake-up call’ activities and create the greatest controversy of the 2005 election.

At the same time, Exclusive Brethren communities throughout the country began offering other forms of campaign support to National. Electorate by electorate, small delegations of church members approached the local National MP or candidate. According to National Party insiders, many MPs and candidates accepted financial contributions from the Brethren for their personal election campaign funds. This was centrally directed by the Brethren hierarchy. Because candidate donations of $1,000 or less do not have to be declared it is unlikely that a single one of these donations had to be made visible to the public. The only MPs known to have refused the offer of money were Katherine Rich, Maurice Williamson and Simon Power, who later told TV3 that he had ‘politely declined’ the Exclusive Brethren donations, telling them he already had enough money.21

Brethren-owned companies displayed National Party hoardings on their land and gave candidates free and cheap services. Church members provided a supply of committed volunteers nationwide to help with National Party telephone canvassing, delivering party literature and erecting election hoardings. All this assistance added up to a huge contribution to National’s election campaign.

A few National Party MPs and candidates had misgivings about the Exclusive Brethren support. The subject was discussed by the caucus at least once but, with the leadership and most MPs behind it, there was no chance that the party would turn down all this money and free help. Most MPs and candidates were simply pleased to get the donations, hoarding sites and volunteers. The assumption was that as long as the public did not know about the Exclusive Brethren links they could not hurt National.

 

 

During May 2005 Exclusive Brethren representatives had a series of discussions with National over the planned election advertising. Don Brash met Exclusive Brethren representatives in Christchurch on 24 May and Napier on 25 May and, in the week of 16–20 May, campaign manager Steven Joyce had a formal meeting with the Brethren who were organising the advertising campaign.22

As will be seen later in the book, Joyce met quietly with other pro-National lobby organisations at this time to suggest how they could most effectively direct their assistance. His two crucial messages were that they should emphasise the party vote and that they use the phrase ‘Change the government’. If ‘independent’ advertising said ‘Change the government’, National could then say ‘and the only way to change the government is to party vote National’, which it proceeded to do on every possible occasion. In this way third-party campaigns could effectively boost the National Party advertising budget and get more votes for National while keeping a sufficient distance to avoid declaration as part of the party’s campaign spending. It seems likely that Joyce gave the same advice to the Exclusive Brethren and those are the words that were used in their advertisements.

Shortly after the meeting with Joyce, on 24 May the Exclusive Brethren recorded their plans in writing and sent copies to Don Brash and finance spokesman John Key. (Brash forwarded it to Steven Joyce.) Headed ‘Urgent, Important and Strictly Confidential’, the letter began: ‘Good afternoon Don and John, Doug Watt and myself enjoyed your presentation this morning at Millennium Hotel’. They reminded them that they were ‘backers of the recent “Wake Up NZ” campaign’, which they said had cost $350,000, and said it was important that they met Brash and Key soon to talk about their next project: ‘a very extensive election campaign ($1,000,000) with the sole goal of “Getting Party Votes for National”’. They noted this meeting would follow on from one with Steven Joyce the previous week.

Basically, we believe marketing is the name of the game. Whilst the meeting this morning was excellent it would not have got one extra vote for National. (Everyone there is going to vote National anyway). Getting the message out and to a younger age bracket is paramount.

We believe time is of the essence. Our campaign (a total of seven nationally distributed flyers) is direct and simple:–

It creates and demonstrates MISTRUST in the current Government.

It builds TRUST in a DON BRASH led National Government.

 

The letter ended by repeating that the Brethren wanted a meeting with Brash and Key ‘at your earliest convenience anywhere in New Zealand’. The writer, Rangiora Brethren Ron Hickmott, provided phone numbers where he could be contacted and told them he was essentially working on what he called ‘our/your election campaign’ full-time.23

The letter appears to have been the culmination of three sets of National Party–Exclusive Brethren discussions. In addition to separate meetings with Brash and Joyce, the Brethren had also had contact with John Key.

A meeting between Key and two Exclusive Brethren was caught on film shortly before the letter, in early May, when a TVNZ current affairs team was following Key for the day. TVNZ identified the men as Exclusive Brethren but they were unhappy about the presence of the cameras and were shown arranging to return when the filming was over. The programme showed them with their faces pixilated and they were identified only as Andrew and Nick.24 One of them, however, appeared to be senior Brethren member Andrew Simmons, one of the main organisers of the election advertising campaign and joint owner of the company that had provided the address for the anti-Civil Union Bill advertising.

Brash was well aware what the Brethren were offering and the legal issues surrounding third-party advertising. On the same day that the Brethren letter arrived, Brash happened to be writing about another plan for third-party advertising involving his friend Diane Foreman, businesswoman and deputy chair of the New Zealand Business Roundtable, with whom he was later alleged to have had an affair. He said he had checked out ‘whether people could fund “parallel campaigns” outside the scope of the limit on electoral expenses and I understand that that is feasible, provided that the funding and control are clearly not directed by the National Party (which would mean we would need to be careful to be “arms length”)’. He said: ‘I guess the stuff which the Exclusive Brethren are doing is one example’.25

The Electoral Act 1993 specifically says that no person can publish – or cause or permit to be published – newspaper advertisements or pamphlets which encourage or appear to encourage voters to vote for a political party unless the advertising is authorised by the secretary of the party. One of the points of this law is to ensure that parties cannot exceed their election spending limits by having others advertise for them. Election spending limits have an important democratic function, which is to try to avoid elections being won and lost according to who has the biggest advertising budget. The various possible breaches of the electoral laws arising from the Exclusive Brethren advertising campaign are looked at in Chapter 15.

National was aware not only of the plans, but of the potential legal problems. It appears they raised these issues with the Brethren after receiving the formal letter in late May. In early June the author of the Brethren letter, Ron Hickmott, phoned Chief Electoral Officer David Henry to arrange a meeting. He explained in a follow-up email that he was one of a group of ‘Christian businessmen’ planning a $1.2 million election programme with the goal of getting party votes for National: ‘we write seeking clarification and direction re the election funding issue, specifically that anything we do does not compromise National’s funding position’.26

Hickmott asked, ‘does it compromise National’s position if we communicate to MPs and candidates our strategy?’, knowing of course that they already had. He also wanted to know: ‘does it compromise National’s position if we show them draft publications before they are published?’ At that stage the Brethren were planning to have pamphlets with Don Brash’s photograph and also asked if they could do this without compromising National’s funding position.27 David Henry organised a meeting with Hickmott and three colleagues for 14 June 2005. He commented to his Electoral Office colleagues in a letter that it was ‘clear that on the basis of their current proposal the advertising will have to be authorised by National and will form part of National’s election expenses’.28 The conclusion of that meeting is not known.

The Exclusive Brethren letter to Brash and Key arrived nearly four months before the election. After that the Brethren were working on the designs and wording of their seven pamphlets and the newspaper advertisements. During June they regularly discussed their plans with the National Party.

These meetings were conducted very confidentially, but some hints of what was going on are evident in internal National Party communications to Brash’s assistant, Bryan Sinclair. In June, National’s Napier electorate campaign manager, Simon Lusk, wrote to Sinclair, passing on various pieces of news about conversations between National Party MPs and the Exclusive Brethren. ‘Bryan, make sure you talk to Don/[Northland MP] John Carter about the discussion John had today in Napier – some very interesting stuff to do with defence and the guy you met up here.’29

It becomes clear in following emails that ‘the guy you met up here’ refers to an Exclusive Brethren member, which means it was Andy Smith. The ‘interesting stuff to do with defence’ referred to an Exclusive Brethren-funded opinion poll that supposedly found public support for dropping the nuclear-free policy. The Brethren offered the poll to National but Richard Long told his colleagues it looked ‘dodgy’. The ACT Party subsequently released the poll to the Herald on Sunday, saying it was from ‘a group of concerned New Zealanders’.30

Lusk then wrote: ‘Bryan, make sure you find out about what they are going to do with the Greens’. The Brethren ‘dusted up the Greens in Tasmania, did a good job there’, and so were ‘considering… going after the Greens’ in New Zealand as well. This shows that by early June National MPs had been told about the Brethren’s proposed anti-Green Party advertising and confirms the link with anti-Green leaflets that were distributed anonymously in Tasmania the year before. The September 2005 New Zealand and October 2004 Tasmanian anti-Green Exclusive Brethren pamphlets were almost identical. Lusk went on to express concern about anti-Green campaigning because he was counting on Green voters to split the vote in Napier and help his National candidate win. ‘They could hurt our chances in Napier if they go after the Greens,’ he wrote, ‘we need as many Greens votes as possible to win the electorate race.’31

Two weeks later, another Lusk email reveals that actual copies of the Exclusive Brethren election advertisements were being shown to National Party MPs. ‘Bryan some of the ads we were discussing in Napier were shown to a selection of MPs yesterday. Apparently there were some very nervous people after hearing them.’32 The reason for the nervousness was not explained.

These documents confirm that, months before the election campaign, National Party MPs and staff – who would later earnestly deny any knowledge – were fully aware of the Exclusive Brethren advertising campaign plans and that at least some MPs had seen the draft publications. They or at least Bryan Sinclair were bound to have shared this with the party leadership. The emails also suggest that the advertisements were discussed face-to-face with Brash and Sinclair when they visited Napier on 25 May 2005, the day after they received Ron Hickmott’s letter.

 

 

Each of the Exclusive Brethren pamphlets was very focused on that ‘sole goal of Getting Party Votes for National’. They showed voting ticks in boxes in blue and ended with the slogan ‘Use your party vote to change the government’ or equivalent words.33 Some pamphlets attacked the Labour government, the Green Party or the Progressive MP Jim Anderton and said it was time for a ‘new and responsible government’. Others were entirely promoting a change of government.

One of the pamphlets, which was delivered over the final weekend before the election, was headed ‘Claim your seat to watch the ALL BLACK action!’ and pictured a crowded rugby ground. It suggested that, with tax cuts, ‘you could fly to Aussie and watch the ALL BLACKS every time!’ Inside was a list of other things voters could buy from a tax cut – a new car, new clothes, a Caribbean cruise – if they ‘use [their] party vote to change the government’.34 The main party campaigning on the promise of tax cuts was, of course, National.

Another pamphlet was headed ‘A NEW LEADER with integrity is urgently needed if New Zealand is to move forward and prosper’. The content of this one is indistinguishable from official National Party election publications. Its list of six key issues is the same as National’s and uses the same kinds of words as National election publications. ‘Social engineering and political correctness’ in education ‘has to go’. ‘Choose a new leadership team that has the courage to spend roading money on roads.’ Lower taxes ‘will return money to hard-working kiwi battlers where it belongs.’35

These advertisements were unlike anything the Exclusive Brethren had done before or have produced since. Their other publications spoke of the ‘Supremacy of God’ and the sanctity of marriage.36 Then suddenly the church was saying that tax cuts could help voters fly to see the All Blacks in Aussie. This does not sound like Exclusive Brethren. They are not allowed to attend large sports events and do not believe in self-gratifying consumerism. They are not big spenders on clothes. This was an appeal to the Supremacy of Mammon, not the Supremacy of God – an expedient exercise in buying the votes of some floating voters. It seems highly likely they had received outside help.

Did the National Party have input into the Brethren advertisements? The internal documents provide no answer but some good guesses can be made. Since we know that the Exclusive Brethren met the National Party campaign manager, Steven Joyce, and were showing the draft pamphlets and advertisements to other MPs, it is highly likely that National had at least some input and may have had a lot. The National Party people were all highly focused on anything that could enhance or detract from their election chances. It seems highly likely that they would have taken an opportunity, if offered, to make the Brethren materials more helpful for their campaign.

 

 

About two months before the election, a senior National Party source gave an intriguing, and worried, hint. ‘There is something I cannot tell you about, but it’s our biggest risk in the campaign. If it comes out, we’re sunk.’ When the Exclusive Brethren’s pro-National advertising hit the news ten days before the election, the person said wryly, ‘Remember that thing I mentioned? Well, this is it.’37

The effectiveness of the Exclusive Brethren campaign was based on being able to keep their role and contacts with National completely secret. Until then they had got away with anonymous political advertising both overseas and in New Zealand. They hoped and expected to do so again, and very nearly did.

The campaign for the Australian election served as the model for the New Zealand activities. Australian Exclusive Brethren advertisements and pamphlets were ‘authorised’ by unknown individuals at obscure or incorrect addresses. No organisations were named. The advertisements arrived without warning shortly before the election and the election had passed before anyone managed to track some of the advertisements back to the church.38

In New Zealand two pamphlets were authorised by a man using his middle rather than first name and no street number.39 Another two used an address where no such person was known.40 One was supposedly from a group called New Zealand Advocates for Timely Healthcare, which does not appear to have any existence outside the pamphlet. Another attacking Labour’s coalition partner, Progressive MP Jim Anderton, was delivered to his Wigram electorate the day before the election, bearing the address of an empty shop a few doors from Anderton’s home.41 And so on. The Brethren had formed a front company called Strategic Information Services Limited to hide the financial backers of the campaign.42 The obvious intention was that no one would trace the advertising back to the church, at least until the election was safely over.

But the news did get out. There are no people more aware and critical of Exclusive Brethren church activities than former members. Once the first anonymous leaflets appeared prominently in the news media, ex-Exclusive Brethren started to recognise names. Some of them decided to tip off Television New Zealand and TV3 reporters and the Green Party, providing a copy of the April 2003 Exclusive Brethren ‘New Zealand Address Book’, which included the names on the brochures. Only three days after the first pamphlet appeared, five people named on the brochures were publicly identified as being Exclusive Brethren and it quickly became the biggest controversy of the election.

 

 

After all the months of preparation, the first pamphlet arrived in letterboxes on Saturday, 3 September 2005. Headed ‘Beware!’, it warned that the Green Party was ‘economically unsustainable’, ‘socially destructive’ and ‘downright dangerous’. Radio New Zealand reported Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons recalling anti-Green leaflets produced by National in the previous election and ‘challeng[ing] the National leader Don Brash to state categorically the party had nothing to do with the pamphlet’.43

National’s first reaction was the typical one used by politicians when they believe their opponents and the media have no proof of an allegation: they confidently denied involvement. When approached by reporters on the Monday, Don Brash said they ‘totally had nothing to do with’ the pamphlets.44

As usual, the issue was monitored and responses were co-ordinated by the National Party media staff. On Saturday afternoon media officer Anita Ferguson sent an email to the leader’s staff: ‘TVNZ is chasing a story about a brochure put out bagging the Greens…. Jeanette Fitzsimmons has called on all party leaders and especially Don to come clean and categorically say they have nothing to do with it’. She said, ‘TV wanted Don but couldn’t have him. I passed them on to Steven [Joyce] who has basically said as far as he’s aware [the person named on the pamphlet, Stephen Win] isn’t a National Party guy and it certainly isn’t a National-funded campaign because if it was it would have to be authorised by him. From Don I have said that it has absolutely nothing to do with National and as far as he (Don) is aware he has never met Stephen Win.’

At this stage the staff were relaxed. The assumption was that, like previous Brethren advertising, this would remain anonymous and the media would lose interest. Ferguson concluded: ‘there is a chance this will be pursued tomorrow…. I wanted Don to say “If you want to talk dirty politics you have come to the wrong political party” but he wasn’t keen. Maybe he could lead in with that if asked tomorrow. Just wanted to let you know what has been said.’45

When questioned by reporters on the Monday, Brash used the suggested line: ‘If you’re interested in talking about dirty tricks, you’ve come to the wrong party’.46 And his denials were categorical. He told TV3: ‘The National Party has had nothing to do with the pamphlets or the pamphlet drop at all’. When the reporter asked, ‘Do you know who’s responsible for it?’, Brash replied, ‘No, I do not’.47

During that day the two main National election strategists, Steven Joyce and Murray McCully, began to feel nervous about the possibility of trouble over the pamphlets. Brash’s denials were based on the assumption that the secrecy surrounding the planning and preparation of the pamphlets would hold. As a precaution, they cancelled a long-planned meeting between Brash and church leaders of several denominations scheduled for later that week in case it ended up being exactly the wrong background for some unwelcome media stories.48

The following day, Tuesday 6 September, thanks to the former church members, the strange fact that the Exclusive Brethren were behind the smear campaign hit the news. That evening, Richard Long wrote to his media staff warning that reporters ‘will be pushing [Don] tomorrow on when and who he met and what they talked about. TV1 even wanted to provide a list of names of people for Don to say whether he had met.’

These were Long’s instructions for handling the issue: ‘It’s best to be open and frank and someone else, eg Gerry or Steven, should divert the debate into Labour’s links and funding with the unions and should Labour explain and release their email traffic with the unions, and their misinformation etc. National was NOT involved with this, but Labour IS involved with the mass union disinformation campaign. Can you please onpass to Murray/Steven/Gerry.’49

As the head of ‘spin’ for the National Party leader’s office, one of Long’s main jobs was scripting the words used by the politicians when talking to journalists. Long always referred to these as ‘lines’, a term borrowed appropriately from the world of theatre and fiction. The Exclusive Brethren lines his staff prepared for Brash that evening were as follows.

 

Q. Exclusive Brethren have been involved with phone canvassing for the National Party?

 

A. We have lots of different people from all denominations and all walks of life working on our campaign. We are a broad church party with wide spread appeal in mainstream New Zealand.

 

Q. Have John Key and Don Brash met with members of the Exclusive Brethren at campaign meetings? What influence has the church had on the campaign?

 

A. Dr Brash has met with the leaders of most church groups in the past few months. He has listened to their concerns and to the concerns of many different groups of New Zealanders.

 

Q. Did anyone in the National Party have any knowledge of these pamphlets?

 

A. Well, I can’t speak for the tens of thousands of party members all around the country but I can assure you that the party’s governing body had absolutely no knowledge of the material you describe, and neither did the leader or any other member of the caucus.50

 

Brash and his colleagues stuck to these lines the next day – Wednesday 7 September – even after the Exclusive Brethren held a press conference acknowledging their backing of the campaign and mentioning that they had met Brash during the previous month. After the Brethren said they had met him, Brash confirmed having an August meeting but said they had offered only ‘prayerful support’. (When the on-line news service NewsRoom reported his admission about the meeting, Brash’s chief press secretary, Jason Ede, forwarded the story to his colleagues and campaign manager Steven Joyce with a one-word comment, ‘Hmmmm’.51) The news report said that when Brash was pressed on the subject of whether he had been told about the pamphlets he ‘walked away’.52

Meanwhile, deputy leader Gerry Brownlee had told Radio New Zealand that morning, ‘We were not aware they were coming out and have had nothing to do with it.’53 A day later McCully ‘was still maintaining National knew nothing about the pamphlets’.54 He also continued to ‘divert the debate into Labour’s links and funding’, as Long had advised, with a long press release titled ‘Look left for conspiracies’.55 John Key, whose filmed meeting with the two Exclusive Brethren men in May was replayed on the TVNZ news, told Radio New Zealand he had ‘met several members of Exclusive Brethren in the past but they did not tell him about any publicity campaigns they had planned’. He said the May meeting had been to discuss relieving the ‘family tax burden’. Though ‘not necessarily National supporters’, the church ‘loathes the direction the Labour government is taking the country’.56

Brash obviously could not dodge the questions for long and it was straining credibility to suggest he had met the Brethren but heard nothing about their election plans. So that night, Richard Long wrote a new set of lines, conceding some vague knowledge of the campaign as a way of not having to admit more and, he hoped, stopping the damaging questioning from going on for days.

 

Q. Did the Brethren tell you of their plans when you met them?

 

A. They mentioned they wanted to change the Government as they were so concerned about Labour’s policies. They intended to distribute pamphlets attacking the Government.

 

Q. Were you shown the pamphlets?

 

A. I certainly don’t recall seeing any and I certainly didn’t read any. And I have been assured by the campaign director that National did not have anything to do with the funding, printing or distribution of the pamphlets.

 

Long then scripted how Brash should try to dodge further questions by feigning irritation.

 

Then, time to get mildly irritated:

Look, this is nothing but a great diversion, which you have been banging on about for three days. The Brethren have admitted they were behind the pamphlets. Labour and the Greens were wrong in pointing the finger at National. You should point out that Labour were wrong….

 

If it continues, even more irritable:

This is getting absurd. First Labour said National was in the hands of the Americans. Then we were in the hands of the Australians, then in the hands of the Business Round Table and Act, now we are supposed to be in the hands of the Brethren. And to top it all off Helen Clark says National would bring a disaster of the proportions of the New Orleans catastrophe. It is time to get back to the real issues that mainstream New Zealanders are concerned about: a fair tax system that returns incentives for hard work, a stop to this march down the road to separate development….57

 

The next morning, Thursday 8 September, people assumed that Brash had made a huge slip when he suddenly went back on his previous denials during an 8.35am interview on the student radio station 95bFM and admitted the Exclusive Brethren had told him in advance about the pamphlet campaign. But, as we can see, he was still simply following the lines prepared for him by his staff. Here is Brash with 95bFM’s Noelle McCarthy:

 

Noelle McCarthy: Now, is it true that two weeks ago you met with members of the Exclusive Brethren who are behind this anti-Government leaflet campaign?

 

Don Brash: Oh yes, I have met with them; I’ve made that quite clear…. They told me they were utterly fed up with the government and I agreed with them….

 

Noelle McCarthy: Apart from indicating that they were going to pray for you, was anything else of a campaigning nature discussed?

 

Brash: Oh, yes. They indicated they were going to campaign against the government. They were going to issue some pamphlets, but I did not read those pamphlets and have had absolutely no part in reading them, writing them, funding them or distributing them, and it’s high time that the media pointed that out. Labour and the Greens have been arguing that the National Party was behind those pamphlets, and we were not. The people who have been behind it have now said who they are.

 

And later in the interview, when McCarthy kept pushing him, Brash even used the feigned irritation:

 

Noelle McCarthy: So why was Gerry Brownlee at such pains to distance National from the Exclusive Brethren?

 

Don Brash: Because Labour and the Greens have been trying to portray this as a National Party plot, and it is a lie. Frankly, I’m getting fed up with it. In the last month, Noelle, we’ve been accused of being in the pockets of the Americans, then of the Australians, then of the Business Roundtable, then of ACT, then of Exclusive Brethren. Yesterday, I think Helen Clark suggested we’d be responsible for a Katrina-type catastrophe if we were in government. This has gone far enough.58

 

This ‘admission’ was calculated damage control. It was designed to divert attention from the extent of National’s involvement and in particular to end damaging media probing and scepticism as quickly as possible, so that National could enter the last week of the election campaign with the issue behind it. As a tactic, it succeeded in both of those objectives. However, though National could manoeuvre to minimise the damage, they could not avoid it completely.

Later that morning Brash was launching National’s ‘First Ten Things’ pamphlet at a netball centre on Auckland’s North Shore. But the journalists present were naturally interested only in the Exclusive Brethren controversy, and especially in why he and other National Party people had kept saying they knew nothing about the pamphlet campaign. The TV3 reporter asked: ‘Why didn’t you say a few days ago that you knew it would be coming out? Or that you knew about it?’59 Brash replied: ‘I wasn’t asked if I knew about it’. That evening TV3 contrasted that reply with Brash’s answer three days earlier, when he was asked if he knew who was responsible and he had said, ‘No, I do not’.60

After the North Shore interviews Brash’s minders made a strategic decision that they had to get him on television, before that evening’s televised leadership debate, so he could try to talk his way out of the crisis. They changed his schedule and accepted an interview with Susan Wood on TVNZ’s Close Up programme at 7pm.

Wood began the interview by asking bluntly, ‘Why didn’t you tell the truth from the beginning?’ What followed had the look and feel of a child not very convincingly making up stories to avoid getting in trouble. The rationale was clearly that, though Brash’s explanations would not be believed by many people, they were necessary to reassure other voters to stay with National.

 

Don Brash: Oh, I did. I’d never seen that pamphlet until Monday this week when Rod Donald waved it in front of my face in Rotorua…. And when asked on Tuesday if the Brethren were behind the pamphlet I said, ‘I don’t know. I know it’s not National Party.’ And what I did know is that the Brethren had spoken to me sometime in the last month, I can’t give you an exact date, to say that they were going to put out some anti-government pamphlets. Did I know that was the pamphlet? No, I didn’t.

 

Susan Wood: Why didn’t you know? How many other people have come to you and said they’re putting out anti-government literature?

 

Don Brash: Not too many, I’m bound to say. I didn’t know that leaflet was the one the Brethren were talking about. The Brethren were talking about doing something against the government. This was against the Green Party….

 

Susan Wood: What I want to talk about is your credibility.

 

Don Brash: I’m very happy to do that.

 

Susan Wood: And I know you’re here tonight only because you’re very concerned about what’s being said.

 

Don Brash: Well, I don’t like being called a liar, to be frank. Helen Clark has called me a liar and I can assure the New Zealand people I am not a liar.

 

Susan Wood: Dr Brash, on Tuesday you said to Paul Holmes, when he asked you who was doing the nasty pamphlets, ‘I don’t know, Paul. One thing I know is it’s not the National Party.’

 

Don Brash: That’s right.

 

Susan Wood: Today you tell us you knew they were going to issue pamphlets attacking the government.

 

Don Brash: And both those statements are absolutely consistent. I did not know the pamphlet I was shown by Rod Donald on Monday was put out by the Brethren.

 

Susan Wood: Why didn’t you work it out?

 

Don Brash: I knew it could have been, sure.

 

Susan Wood: Well, why didn’t you say so?

 

Don Brash: It’s not my position to dob in the Brethren. The Brethren only yesterday said, ‘Hey, this was us.’ I said, ‘Great, now I’ve connected the two – the meeting I had back in August and the distribution of the pamphlet and that’s fine, that’s the Brethren.’ ….

 

Susan Wood: It absolutely is [your responsibility to say what you know about who’s behind the pamphlets]. Because you’re putting out statements saying you don’t know and this is the situation you find yourself in tonight, in that you’re being accused of lying. It makes you look dishonest.

 

Don Brash: Well, there is nothing I said on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday that I resile from in any way…. Why is it, Susan, that this campaign by the Brethren is being regarded as a nasty, dirty smear campaign and when the PPTA, the teachers’ union, spend $373,000 attacking the National Party’s policies, unfairly, that’s all clean?

 

Susan Wood: Because it’s done above board and these pamphlets were not done above board. That’s the fundamental issue…. Gerry Brownlee actually said, ‘We were not aware they were coming out and had nothing to do with it’.

 

Don Brash: Well, Gerry Brownlee did have no knowledge of it.

 

Susan Wood: So you didn’t talk to him about the meetings?

 

Don Brash: No. I have meetings with people all the time, Susan. This was after Parliament finished for the year. Gerry Brownlee was not in Wellington. The meeting was in Wellington. It was a 20-minute meeting at 5.40pm in the evening….

 

Susan Wood: Are you going to apologise to the people of New Zealand?

 

Don Brash: No, I’m not. I said nothing that was untrue.61

 

There is no doubt that, if the smear campaign had remained anonymous, as was intended, National would have continued to deny all knowledge. Brash would have continued to say the party ‘totally had nothing to do with’ it. Brownlee and McCully would also have been unaware and known nothing. Key would not have had to say he had met them several times but that ‘they did not tell him about any publicity campaigns’. If the Exclusive Brethren had not mentioned meeting Brash at their Wednesday press conference, he would have continued obfuscating with some line about having met with the leaders of most church groups in the past few months. What little ‘truth’ came from National appeared only after the information had already become public anyway. Everything else was kept secret, thereby allowing scope for denials and untruths.

Brash and other National Party MPs and staff had had numerous meetings with Exclusive Brethren about its election campaign, for months before the one August meeting to which Brash was forced to admit. National MPs had been told about the anti-Green pamphlets, not just the anti-government ones, as Brash suggested to Susan Wood. The Brethren put their plans in writing to Brash and Key four months before the election. Drafts of the brochures had been shown to at least one group of MPs long before the election. And National had been actively encouraging this sort of third-party campaign support during 2005 so that it could, in effect, boost its advertising while getting around the legal spending limit.

Once some of the denials are exposed, others cease to be credible. Brownlee’s claims that he knew nothing were perhaps faintly credible when Brash had only heard about the pamphlets shortly before the election and after his deputy had left Wellington. But it defies belief that senior MPs working together on the election campaign over several months did not discuss the million-dollar Brethren plans. The same is true of John Key. He would continue strenuously to deny any knowledge of the plans. But it is not credible that he was somehow left in the dark for months when other senior MPs were discussing and even nervous about the plans; that he missed the 24 May 2005 email from Ron Hickmott; and that while Brethren members were meeting other MPs and telling them about the pamphlet campaign, he was apparently visited by one of the main organisers of the pamphlets and they talked only about reducing the family tax burden.

Susan Wood summed up the issue: ‘A lot of your appeal, Dr Brash, is that you’re not a politician, that you don’t play loose and fast with the facts. You have damaged your reputation because people will be thinking, well, I don’t know if he’s telling the truth.’ For two years Brash’s advisers had promoted the idea that he wasn’t like other politicians; that he was the non-politician politician who could be relied on to tell the truth. But this had just been more spin. When Don Brash said ‘I am not a liar’ on national television at the end of that week, the ghost of Richard I-am-not-a-crook Nixon must have been looking on approvingly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Don Brash, Address to Christchurch Central Zonta Club, 7 August 2006.

2 ‘Clark stole election, says Brash’, New Zealand Herald, 24 August 2006.

3 Don Brash, Don Brash Writes newsletter, No. 88, 25 August 2006.

4 Chapter 13 mentions these and other examples.

5 See Appendix.

6 Ibid.

7 This figure is found in reference 22.

8 Richard Long, email to Don Brash, Gerry Brownlee, Murray McCully, Simon Power and Tony Ryall, 5 April 2005.

9 Richard Long, email to Don Brash, 7 April 2005.

10 Thanks to Peter Wills for advice on the Exclusive Brethren.

11 ‘Veiled sect hails Bush, Martinez’, Lucy Morgan, St Petersburg Times, 18 January 2005.

12 ‘“Inflammatory” flyer raises ire’, Lisa Jorgensen and Rosalind Duane, North Shore News, British Columbia, 18 April 2005.

13 In late 2006 Exclusive Brethren election campaigns were discovered in Sweden and again in Australia.

14 See Appendix.

15 Bryan Sinclair, email to Don Brash, 9 December 2004.

16 The Brethren sponsors were Philip Win, Steve Wallace, Julian Anderson, Richard Judd, Geoff Smith, Eddie Stanners, Andrew Simmons, Doug Watt, Tim Lough and Andy Smith. The company was Aspect Interiors, jointly owned by Andrew and Neville Simmons.

17 Anne Small, email to Don Brash, 8 February 2005.

18 Richard Long, email to Don Brash, 24 February 2005.

19 National Party candidate profile for Fepulea’i Ulua’ipou-O-Malo Aiono, www.national.org.nz, 2005.

20 Emails between Fepulea’i Ulua’ipou-O-Malo Aiono and Bryan Sinclair, 21 April 2005.

21 ‘Brethren cost Nats win: Rich’, Ruth Laugesen, Sunday Star-Times, 24 September 2006; Simon Power, quoted on TV3 News, 7 September 2005.

22 Ron Hickmott, letter to Don Brash and John Key, 24 May 2005.

23 Ibid.

24 ‘Unlocking John Key’, TVNZ Sunday, reporter Garth Bray, broadcast 15 May 2005.

25 Don Brash, email to Bryan Sinclair, 24 May 2005.

26 Ron Hickmott, email to David Henry, 8 June 2005.

27 Ibid.

28 David Henry, email to Robert Peden and Irene Walker, 8 June 2005.

29 Simon Lusk, email to Bryan Sinclair, 8 June 2005.

30 On 19 June 2005, ‘Poll favours ship visits’, the Herald on Sunday reported that ‘Most New Zealanders support allowing American warships back into our harbours now they no longer carry nuclear weapons, a privately-commissioned poll shows.’ The poll was released by ACT Party MP Ken Shirley, who said it had been commissioned by a group of concerned New Zealanders. He said the concerned New Zealanders ‘had offered the poll results to National, which was not interested, so they had instead given them to ACT.’ In an email to Don Brash, Steven Joyce, Anita Ferguson and Gerry Brownlee the same day, Richard Long noted that the poll had been commissioned by the Exclusive Brethren, ‘not the group of leading concerned NZ citizens that Ken Shirley suggested’, and instructed media staff to keep Don Brash away from the story. He said that ‘while Digipoll did the field work, they did not do the methodology… and some of it looked a bit like push polling to our people’ and the full poll contained ‘dodgy stuff… about people viewing China as a security threat etc’.

31 Simon Lusk, email to Bryan Sinclair, 9 June 2005.

32 Simon Lusk, email to Bryan Sinclair, 24 June 2005.

33 Others said, ‘Use your party vote to put someone else in charge’, ‘Change the government with your party vote’ and ‘It’s time to change the government’.

34 See Appendix.

35 See Appendix.

36 The first full-page advertisement dated 9 December 2004 looks and sounds like an Exclusive Brethren publication. The layout is basic and the language includes old-fashioned phrases such as ‘union of a man and a woman’, ‘the sanctity of marriage’ as a ‘providential bond’ and appeals to MPs to act in recognition of the ‘Supremacy of God’. Five months later the layout of the ‘Wake-up call’ advertisements is still pretty basic and, again, the language does not sound like the work of slick political people. The anti-Labour message is almost lost in hundreds of words of unfocused pro-American text. These advertisements are reminiscent of the unsophisticated Canadian and United States Exclusive Brethren advertising. In the midst of the design of the election publications (13 June 2005), Don Brash received a lobbying letter from the same Ron Hickmott who authored the 24 May letter setting out the Brethren’s million-dollar election plans. He asked the National Party to vote for a pro-nuclear ACT Party bill and an anti-single-sex marriage United Future Party bill ‘so as to give God a basis to continue the increasing support the Party has enjoyed in recent weeks…. We would respectfully urge that the Supremacy of God is recognised in this matter.’ Again, this is far from advertisements about All Black matches and Caribbean cruises. Then, shortly after the New Zealand election, the Exclusive Brethren resumed their lobbying activities. The next publication, signed by four of the leading Brethren behind the election advertising, was back to the pre-election style. The leaflet, called ‘An urgent appeal to all MPs’, returns to a moralistic tone of demanding attention: ‘You must seriously consider your position on the “Marriage (Gender Clarification) Amendment Bill”.’ It also returns to the old-fashioned language: ‘Your vote today will publicly signal your valuation of the institution of marriage’. This was being sent to MPs who would be more likely to  take notice of something about flying to Aussie to watch the All Blacks.

37 Private communications from a confidential source.

38 In South Australia, researchers Peter and Bronte Trainor managed after the election to trace some Adelaide advertisements back to Exclusive Brethren members. One was a full-page advertisement in the Adelaide Advertiser on the day before the election with the theme ‘We are Happy John’. The advertisement was authorised by B. Hornsey, SAET School with the address 137 Davis Road. The SAET (South Australian Education Trust) school had actually been deregistered some time before and replaced by the Melrose Park School, run by the Brethren community, at 137 Dawes Road. Two other half-page advertisements were placed in the Mount Barker Courier in the issue before the election. They were anti-Green – ‘Why The Grass Won’t Be Greener On The Other Side – Keep Australia in Safe Hands’– and authorised by an A.K. Grace from a suburban address that turned out to be a rented domestic property, not far from Melrose Park School. Grace later confirmed that advertisements in both papers had indeed been placed by the same group of people associated with Adelaide’s Brethren community. The Trainors found eight other advertisements headed ‘John Howard provides strong leadership for Australia. Keep Australia in safe hands’, which they say were almost identical to official Liberal Party election material. They were placed by a Mr D. Burgess from an address which they subsequently discovered was one of the campuses of the Exclusive Brethren Glenvale School in Melbourne. Personal communication, March 2006. There were probably many other advertisements in other states.

39 Stephen Win, Favona Road, Mangere, Auckland.

40 M. Powell, 30 Stephen Lynsar Place, Mount Roskill, Auckland.

41 ‘Anderton ad complaint’, Vernon Small, Dominion Post, 30 September 2005. The name on the advertisement, which accused Anderton of championing big business, was M. Currie at 52 Somerset Crescent, Christchurch.

42 This company was incorporated as Business Information Limited on 9 May 2005, the day the ‘Wake-up call’ advertisements began. The name was changed to Strategic Information Services Limited on 6 September 2005 as the first election pamphlets were distributed. The three directors and shareholders of the company were, in 2006, Gregory Charles Mason, a wealthy Auckland businessman who has been described in the news media as head of the New Zealand church, Andrew James Smith, the Hastings man who co-ordinated the ‘Wake-up call’ advertising, and Caleb Hall, a Palmerston North Exclusive Brethren member who helped Andy Smith arrange the printing and distribution of the ‘Wake-up call’ pamphlets.

43 ‘National denies involvement in anti-Greens leaflet’, Radio New Zealand, 3 September 2005.

44 ‘Dirty tricks claims traded’, Colin Espiner, Press, 6 September 2005.

45 Anita Ferguson, email to Bryan Sinclair, Murray McCully and Richard Long, 3 September 2005.

46 Colin Espiner, Press, 6 September 2005.

47 Stephen Parker, TV3 News, interviewing Don Brash, 5 September 2005.

48 Brash simply received an email from his personal assistant informing him that ‘owing to prospective concerns about the [church leaders] meeting… Steven and Murray decided to postpone it’. (Vanessa Rawson, email to Don Brash, 6 September 2005.) Brash replied: ‘Ouch…. NOT a good look. How many people will turn up feeling brassed off with National?’

49 Richard Long, email to Anita Ferguson, Don Brash and National Communications Staff, 6 September 2005.

50 Anita Ferguson, email to Richard Long, 6 September 2005, forwarded to Don Brash.

51 Jason Ede, email to National Communications Staff and Steven Joyce, 7 September 2005.

52 ‘We’re doing God’s work’, Dominion Post, 8 September 2005.

53 ‘Brash says he knew of church pamphlet plans’, New Zealand Press Association, 7 September 2005.

54 ‘Brash mounts desperate campaign to restore credibility’, Ruth Berry, New Zealand Herald, 9 September 2005.

55 Murray McCully, ‘Look left for conspiracies’, press release, 8 September 2005.

56 ‘Key says Exclusive Brethren did not tell him about leaflet’, Radio New Zealand Newswire, 8 September 2005.

57 Anita Ferguson, email to Don Brash, National Communications Staff, Steven Joyce and Murray McCully, 7 September 2005, ‘Onpassed from Richard’.

58 Noelle McCarthy interviewing Don Brash, 95bFM, 8 September 2005. Transcript on www.scoop.co.nz.

59 TV3 News, interviewing Don Brash, 8 September 2005.

60 Stephen Parker, Brash interview.

61 Susan Wood, Close Up, interviewing Don Brash, 8 September 2005.

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