Thursday, August 17, 2006

What's Green, Brown and Pale?

Greens Party leader Bob Brown has had his attempt to get the Senate to establish an inquiry into the religious group, The Exclusive Brethren, rejected by 59 votes to 4. He argues that the Exclusive Brethren are secretive, abusive towards ex-members, and he suspects it has links to the Liberal Party. He's upset that in recent elections, the group has taken out full-page anti-Green advertisements in Tasmanian papers, even though the group are forbidden from voting. But Senator Eric Abetz of the Liberals says that Bob Brown has raised no allegations of illegal activity against them, and the push for an enquiry is just an attempt at payback. In his opinion, the motion vilifying the Exclusive Brethren marks a new low in Australian politics. And Labor and the Democrats seem to agree, since they also voted against Senator Brown's motion.

Certainly the Brethren are secretive and a fairly closed group. They reject technology including radio, television and computers, and many other aspects of modern lifestyle, and believe themselves to be the exclusive people saved to Heaven. They meet for prayer meetings every day, and on Sundays pretty much all day. Their women have their heads covered in public, and they deal as much as possible with other Brethren instead of the wider public.

But does any of this justify an attempt at a Senate inquiry? The fact is that any Australian citizen or group has the right to advertise as long as they pay the bill, and so long as an Authorizing Person is listed on the ad if it is a political one. Does Bob Brown then think that because they don't vote, they shouldn't be allowed to comment on politics? I don't know many Brethren, but I have known a number of Jehovah's Witnesses - their belief system also tells them they aren't allowed to vote. Mormons likewise. But I've known Jehovah's Witnesses who do vote, despite this, and I'm sure there are Brethren who do as well. And if not voting was grounds for not being allowed to comment, what then of the United States electoral system, which is non-compulsory and usually gets a pretty poor percentage turnout compared to Australian elections. Are all those who don't vote in the US not supposed to talk politics?

As to the secrecy, because they reject technology, there isn't a lot of information to be found on the internet about them, and what there is, is usually published by an ex-member who obviously gives a slanted view. But the information is there, for those who care to look for it. And as to the charge of rejecting ex-members, what group doesn't? Jehovah's Witnesses are notorious for cutting off completely anybody who leaves them, as are Mormons and a hundred other fringe groups. Even the local Footy or Apex club is likely to have little to do with those who they have been practically family with, who then choose to reject them and go their own way. That's not evil abusive rejection, it's just human nature.

The fact is that Dr Bob Brown, leader of the Greens in Tasmania, is a self-confessed homosexual, and by the strict standards of belief of the Brethren, he is going to Hell, a very real place where he will live for eternity in burning torture. And his party, like all fringe parties, must take on all causes to swell the numbers of its supporters. The Greens came to power on the basis of environmental protection in Tasmania, and soon became outspoken on any issue that had a few supporters attached to it, as a quick list of their official policies and initiatives shows:

Aboriginal Affairs, Affordable Housing, Agriculture, Ambulance, Arts, Child Protection Initiative, Coastal Integrity, Democracy and Participation, Dentist, Early Intervention, Economic Development, Education, Employment, Energy Wise, Environment Rescue Package, Forests, Gambling, Health, Housing, Industrial Manslaughter, Industrial Relations and Workers Compensation, Justice, Lyons Electorate, Planning, Police and Weapon Control, Protected Areas World Heritage and Wilderness, Smoking, Tourism, Transport, Treasury and Finance, Visitor Scheme, Waste, Water Policy Funding, Wine Industry Initiative, Women, Worker's Compensation Initiative, Youth

Someone needs to explain to the Greens the meaning of the phrase, "Jack of all trades, Master of none." By continually taking on each and every cause that will get them a few more voters, the Greens lose all credibility as impartial thinkers who base their decisions on an intelligent analysis of the facts. If there was a new factory at Whoop-Whoop announced today, tomorrow there would be a press release from the Greens saying what a terrible thing it will be for everyone. This sort of attitude keeps you in front of the reporters and their cameras, but it doesn't make for much trust in them. That's why they've been solidly pounded at every election in recent history.

The Greens need to get back to basics. They need to remember what it was that got them elected in the first place - it sure wasn't battery hens, immigration or transsexual nazi eskimos. If they can remember what brought them to power in the first place, if they can "return to their first love", to put it in Biblical terms, perhaps then the public might return them to the position of power they once held in this State.

ABC Online Senate Rejects Inquiry
Tasmanian Greens Policies
Wikipedia - About the Exclusive Brethren

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