Rudd Brethren stance indicates deal: PM
Aug 24, 2007
Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd's refusal to meet with the Exclusive Brethren Christian sect indicates he has done a preference deal with the Greens, Prime Minister John Howard says.
Mr Rudd this week branded the Exclusive Brethren an extremist cult and criticised Prime Minister John Howard for meeting earlier this month with the group's world leader the "Elect Vessel" Bruce Hales.
Mr Howard on Friday said he believed the Brethren had come under criticism because of "villainous attacks" by Greens Leader Bob Brown.
"The fact that Mr Rudd is not seeing them indicates he has done a preference deal with Bob Brown," Mr Howard told Southern Cross Broadcasting.
"The Greens have made it clear that they really have this mob in their gunsights, and they've put the heat on Mr Rudd not to see them."
Mr Brown has criticised the sect for its ways and for allegedly campaigning against his party.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) are investigating spending before the 2004 election of $370,000 on pro-Liberal and anti-Greens advertising by Willmac Enterprises, a company with links to the Exclusive Brethren.
The religious group also been accused of running a smear campaign against New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and hiring a private detective to investigate leading members of the New Zealand Labour Party.
Mr Howard on Friday reiterated that he did not discuss money when he met with Mr Hales, but he said the Brethren have a right to support political parties if they want.
Exclusive Brethren members are prohibited from voting, attending university, and having TVs, radios, personal computers and mobile phones. They are also banned from contact with family members who leave the church.
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