The shadowy figures behind the advertising campaign against the Greens
and for majority government before the Tasmanian election last weekend
are coming out of the woodwork – including former Liberal
Premier Robin Gray.

Greens leader Peg Putt has blamed a coalition of forces against the
Greens for a drop in electoral support, including big business, union
leaders and the Christian sect Exclusive Brethren (as unearthed by Crikey).

Today, Exclusive Brethren members Trevor Christian and Roger Unwin
have defended their actions in letters to Tasmanian newspapers. Christian and
Unwin, who have avoided direct media contact, say no-one else was
expected to disclose their religion, reject accusations they
mislead the public over Greens policies, and say that it was their decision for a blitz
against the Greens:

…our campaign was not initiated, controlled, funded or
publicly endorsed by the congregation in any way. We believe government
to be of God and for this reason we respect it; consequently, 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 on which our nation is founded.

While Christian and Unwin entered the fray in the last days of the
campaign, a group called Tasmanians for a Better Future were in
there from the start, with a multimedia campaign advocating stable,
majority government – which could only mean a vote for Labor, since
the Liberals had no chance of winning outright.

The ads were authorised by Corporate Communications principal Tony
Harrison. Before the poll, Hobart businessman Michael Kent revealed he
had pumped money into the campaign, but would not say who else
was involved. However, buried in an interview with The Examiner
on Monday, Liberal member Sue Napier said Robin Gray was involved. Gray
is not only a former Liberal Premier, but he is a director of timber
giant, Gunns Ltd, which had warned that the $1.5 billion pulp mill
proposed for the Tamar Valley might be built in China if there was
minority government.

Crikey couldn’t get in touch with Gray this morning, so went back to Napier,
who said the Federal Government’s IR policy had hurt the Liberals
and that ads placed by Gray and Kent had also had an adverse effect.
“We said we would govern in majority or not at all, so Robin (Gray) and
Michael Kent said that voters should ensure that if there was a
majority government it should be a Labor Government.”

Peter Fray

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