Crikey editor Misha Ketchell writes:

Two key members of the secretive religious sect that spent thousands of
dollars on newspapers ads campaigning against the Greens in last Saturday’s Tasmanian election have written to the Launceston Examiner defending their involvement – and their right to lobby while keeping their religious beliefs private.

The Exclusive Brethren are a breakaway sect of the Plymouth Brethren
and they have a rigid code of conduct, which excludes reading
newspapers or voting. But they have poured money into election
campaigns, particularly in New Zealand and the US. Their involvement in
New Zealand politics has sparked anger (see this article in the New Zealand Herald) and there has also been concern about their anti-Green pamphlets distributed in the 2004 Australian Federal election.

Greens leader Bob Brown yesterday
claimed the Brethren’s actives were being investigated by NZ police
and the Australian Electoral Commission. He hit out at the Tasmanian
campaign – authorised by Trevor Christian and Roger Unwin – and
labelled the Brethren a “shadowy
and bigoted sect which harms families.”

Here’s what Christian and Unwin had to say in their defence:

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW