Thursday, September 20, 2007

Exclusive Brethren Cult Members working with Howard team in Bennelong

Exclusive Brethren leaders meet PM

22nd August 2007, West Australian

Prime Minister John Howard has met privately with senior members of the Exclusive Brethren religious sect, including a man under police scrutiny for his spending on Mr Howard's 2004 election campaign.

Fairfax on Wednesday reported that two weeks ago in his parliamentary office, Mr Howard met Mark Mackenzie, a Sydney pump salesman whose company, Willmac, channelled $270,000 into advertising for the 2004 election that supported Mr Howard.

The Australian Electoral Commission later investigated the Willmac money, while an Australian Federal Police investigation is continuing, the report said.

The sect's world leader, Bruce D Hales, Hales' brother Stephen and another elder, Warwick John, also attended the August 8 meeting, a sect spokesman told Fairfax.

But the spokesman denied the group asked for Mr Howard's help on the police probe or offered the PM assistance in his battle to retain his Sydney seat, Bennelong, against star Labor candidate Maxine McKew.

The spokesman said the elders assured Mr Howard they were praying for him, and that Willmac and Bennelong were not discussed.

Stephen Hales ran the Brethren's pro-Howard campaign in Bennelong in 2004, the report said.
He authorised some of the group's controversial print ads, using the address of the Brethren school, and helped find Brethren members to campaign for Mr Howard.

A Greens campaigner in Bennelong, Matthew Henderson, told Fairfax he knew members of the sect were working on Mr Howard's campaign.

Greens senator Bob Brown said Mr Howard should reveal the nature of the August 8 talks and his relationship with the Exclusive Brethren.



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