Impolite Dinner Conversation – update on the Exclusive Brethren

October 16, 2007

After the fantastic Four Corners program last night, I thought I should update my earlier article on the Exclusive Brethren, and see what else I can find out there.

It seems that the EB’s involvement in politics did not, in fact, start with the assumption of its leadership by Bruce Hales.

1993, Australian Federal Election – under John Hales (Bruce’s father), advertisements in newspapers around the country appeared supporting John Hewson’s “FightBack” campaign policy (the first iteration of the Goods & Services Tax) for the upcoming election. Orders to distribute these ads as widely as possible apparently came from John Hales.

(At this time, a man named Warwick Johns applied for, and was granted, a license to formally take up political lobbying. He was endorsed by a sitting Liberal MP. More of him later.)

According to ex-member Bob Hales (and note the name – yes, he is a relative), after the decisive Labor victory in that election, the EB decided they had erred by attempting to interfere in politics. This might explain the long silence until 2002 – unless we just haven’t found out about it yet.

2004, Australian Federal Election – the EB were granted a temporary exemption from a national program which would test all children for computer literacy. This was endorsed by Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson, on the grounds that the EB’s religious beliefs prohibited them from becoming familiar with such technology. As we’ve seen, though, the evidence suggests that this was a policy well on its way out the door.

During the 2004 election campaign, Willmac Enterprises, a company owned by Mark McKenzie of the EB, was the sole vehicle by which funds for political campaigning were received and spent. McKenzie signed all the cheques. The funds themselves were provided by Warwick Johns (not an employee of WIllmac). Advertisements were placed in newspapers in Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania.

Willmac itself had a registered business address that was, in fact, a derelict house. This contravenes business registration laws. Adding to the crimes committed by Willmac, Warwick Johns deposted approximately $320,000 into Willmac’s accounts. These donations were not declared to the Australian Electoral Commission.

Some of the advertisements used in that 2004 election campaign were authorised by Stephen Hales, brother of the Elect Vessel. He gave his address as that of an EB school in Bennelong (Mr. Howard’s electorate) where he was a trustee. The school is a registered charity, and as such is not allowed to engage in any form of party political endorsement.

Giving the lie to the EB’s claim that the ads were the work of individuals acting independently, Four Corners revealed that many of these ads were authorised by Victorian members, booked by SA members, and funded by Willmac (registered in NSW).

2004, US Presidential election – the Thanksgiving Committee, mentioned in my earlier article, was only one of many to take part in lobbying. According to ex-member Don Monday, there were committee set up all over the country, all co-ordinated by a national committee. (Four Corners reported that Don Monday was threatened with legal action by the EB, when it learned that he was planning to speak out on this subject.)

2005, New Zealand federal election – the most recent figure for the amount spent by the EB on its smear campaign is $500,000 – $1 million. It’s now also known that the Opposition Leader, the National Party’s Don Brash, held private meetings with EB representatives. (Sound familiar?) According to both Neville Simmons (an EB member) and Marion Maddox (NZ academic and author of the incredible God Under Howard, the smear did not stop after Helen Clark’s election. Private investigators were hired to tail federal MPs, rumours were spread about the sexual preferences of politicians and their spouses (including Ms. Clark’s husband).

2006, Tasmania State election – along with newspaper advertisements, EB members took to driving around the streets towing signs smearing the Greens. The drivers’ faces were always obscured by fright masks.

The advertisements themselves were prepared by a company called Master Advertising. This was the same agency used by the Liberal Party – and in fact, all the anti-Green advertisements were paid by the Liberal Party account.

2006, US mid-term elections – the EB began a campaign to support, among others, Ohio Representative Ken Blackwell, known for his antagonism towards gay marriage and gun control. Shelli Carmichael, ex-member, said she and many other EB families, were commanded to engage in lobbying on his behalf. The Elect Vessel himself travelled to Ohio, but denies any activity other than “Bible readings”. (Blackwell has since come under investigation for unrelated matters of possible electoral fraud.)


It’s difficult to find a paper trail with much of the EB’s activities. According to ex-members (and confirmed by EB spokesperson Phil McNaughton), this is because members regularly travel internationally, bearing envelopes full of cash donations. The amounts invariably fall just under the legal limit of $10,000, meaning that the EB does not have to declare them.


It seems Mr Howard and Mr Costello aren’t the only ones who have met with the EB. Four Corners discovered that Federal Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock, Health Minister Tony Abbott and Minister for Human Services Chris Ellison have also held meetings. No one is talking about what was discussed.

The August ’07 meeting with Mr Howard, discussed in my earlier article, was attended by Elect Vessel Bruce Hales, his brother Stephen Hales, Warwick Johns and Mark McKenzie. Three of these men have violated electoral laws. The fourth is complicit, and may well have been the man who gave the final orders. Mr Howard still defends his right to meet with them.


The Four Corners program was completed before the news about the Wentworth leaflet broke. The full program with extended interviews is available online, as are reproductions of the political advertisements and leaflets that have been used by the EB.

Keep an eye out. It’s not over.

Impolite Dinner Conversation – the Exclusive Brethren

October 12, 2007

It’s that time again. Put your elbows on the table, talk with your mouth full, and join me for a little discussion of those two forbidden topics – politics and religion.

Today, let’s talk about the Exclusive Brethren.

They’re an interesting lot – a schism of the Plymouth Brethren. Formed in the 1820s, their exact beginnings are subject to dispute by church members. The majority of the Plymouth Brethren believe that the movement began simultaneously in several places including Plymouth, England and Dublin, Ireland, spurred on by a desire to move away from the rituals and schisms of other Christian worship and embrace instead an idea of “coming together in the name of Christ”, with no regard for denominational difference. Becoming formally established in Plymouth in 1830, the name “brethren” was adopted (from the adherents’ habit of addressing each other as ‘brother’). Interestingly, the movement, at least in the early days, was sometimes referred to as the Assembly Movement – which raises some very prickly questions about the coincidence of names with the Assemblies of God.

The PB are characterised by the idea that the believer should separate himself from the world. This covers the social, economic, military and political arenas – especially the electoral process. Engagement with the outside world is kept to a necessary minimum, in order for the believer to be focused on their relationship with Christ.

(As a side note, the title “Assembly Movement” is maddeningly vague. A quick search pulls up hundreds of irrelevant sites. What little I could find out just here at the ‘pooter suggests a connection – at least in Canada – between the Assembly Movement/Brethren and something called the ‘Seed Sower’ movement.)

The point at which the Exclusive Brethren formally broke away is somewhat obscure, but it appears to have begun under the leadership of F.E. Raven, who led the PB during the second half of the 19th century. The fragmentation and schism continued for the next hundred years, until in 1959 the leader (at that point, James Taylor Jr.) excommunicated a vocal dissenter and set about radically reforming the church. He called for extreme separatism – for example, extending the idea of non-engagement to the point of forbidding a member to eat with those outside the sect. The term ‘exclusive’ began to be appended to this group, to distinguish from dissenters (who adopted the term ‘open’).

In 1987, leadership of the Exclusive Brethren passed into Australian hands, to businessman John Hales. He was succeeded in 2002 by his son, Bruce, who is the current leader. In the EB, the leader is referred to as the “Elect Vessel”, signifying his divinely chosen status.

2002 was the year when everything changed for the EB. Business prosperity and an increased demand for members to make cash donations was emphasised. Previously, members had been forbidden to have televisions, radios, or access to the internet. Under Hales, these rules were gradually relaxed, but only for those higher-up in the church (which, despite its protestations of non-hierarchy, shows a clear distinction between ordinary members and those who are direct subordinates of Hales). It was also about that time that the EB began to take an interest in politics, another about-face. Here’s a quote from the Exclusive Brethren website on the subject of government :

Exclusive Brethren believe in Government and are subject to it as outlined by Paul in Romans 13:1. They do not live in countries that do not have a Christian Government. Their approach is non-political. They do not vote, but hold Government in the highest respect as God’s ministers, used by Him to restrain evil and provide conditions for the promotion of the glad tidings. Exclusive Brethren hold formal prayer meetings every week and include prayers for the support and guidance of right Government which is clearly of God , and also for divine resistance to the devil’s efforts to influence it. Contact with members of parliament or congress is encouraged to express a moral viewpoint of legislation in relation to the rights of God and this ongoing communication is found to be acceptable and productive. (my emphasis)

Here’s how this “communication” has worked out in practice. For much of this information I am indebted to a terrific article written by David Marr.

2004 Australian federal election : unnamed people turned up in force at a Gladesville RSL to heckle Greens candidate Andrew Wilkie (who some may remember as a whistleblower on the appalling state of Australia’s intelligence operations) about issues of sexuality, including the homosexuality of Greens leader Bob Brown. Some were recognised as being EB members. At the same time, “Liberal look-alike” advertisements attacking the Greens appeared in newspapers in New South Wales and South Australia, and leaflets appeared throughout Tasmania. The names of those who placed the ads were also traced back to the EB. By not disclosing their expenditures, the EB are in violation of the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

In the same election, $377,000 was donated for pro-Howard advertising by Mark McKenzie of the Willmac company. McKenzie is EB. The Australian Electoral Commission investigated this and has handed the matter to the Australian Federal Police for further investigation.

2004 US Presidential election : within weeks of the Howard Government’s victory, a group calling itself the “Thanksgiving 2004 Committee” registered with the IRS and started advertising in Florida. They threw their support behind George Bush, and a local anti-gay candidate, Mel Martinez. The company registration came too late for voters to easily discover who was behind this, but in January ’06 the US Federal Elections Commission published the committee’s financial returns. Of the $US 600,000 raised in support of the Bush campaign, over half was contributed by Bruce Hazell, a UK national and EB member. According to the FEC, this is a violation of a 1966 law limiting foreign intervention in US elections. The advertising agent, Ron Heggie, also confirmed that the committee was EB.

2005, Canada : while the Parliament debated a bill on same-sex marriage, leaflets opposing the idea appeared all over the country, signed by “Concerned Canadian Parents”. The address was a post office box in Toronto. The leaflets were carefully worded to avoid Canada’s hate propaganda laws. Later, an ex-member admitted that the “Parents” were, in fact, EB.

2005, New Zealand federal elections : a massive anti-Greens campaign (to the tune of $NZ1.2 million) was undertaken. Pamphlets that were distributed were recognised as being identical to the ones used in 2004 against Greens Senator Christine Milne. A Greens party member who was ex-EB had taken with him a list of EB members, and many of the names matched up.

2006, Tasmanian State elections : yet more pamphlets, with the emphasis squarely on gay and transgender issues. Bob Brown, on discovering the EB connection, called for a Senate inquiry. He was promptly shouted down by Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, who defended the EB’s right of freedom of speech and compared Brown to a Nazi persecuting Jews.

2007, Australian non-election campaign : Prime Minister John Howard held a private meeting with EB leaders including Elect Vessel Bruce Hales and Mark McKenzie in August. This meeting, according to the EB spokesman, was “last-minute”, and did not discuss either the investigation against Mark McKenzie or the possibility of EB endorsement for the Howard re-election campaign. For his part, Mr Howard considered it part of his job to meet with representatives of religious groups.

Treasurer Peter Costello has, apparently, also held many meetings with the EB. He justified these meetings on the grounds that it would be “a crime” not to meet with someone on the basis of their religious convictions.

All very laudable, but let’s look at a few facts here.

The EB forbid their members to take part in the electoral process. In fact, they are legally exempt from voting. Their own doctrines suggest that they must trust in God to provide “right government” through earthly representatives. Why, then, do both Howard and Costello feel the need to have multiple meetings with such a group, particularly on short notice?

Between 2003-06, Mr Howard repeatedly refused to meet with Dr. Dean Drayton, head of the Uniting Church in Australia. The members of the Uniting Church do vote and are legally compelled to do so. Why, then, would Mr Howard refuse to meet with a representative from a politically active group (which is much, much larger in terms of membership), yet arrange a “last-minute” meeting with an exclusive, non-voting sect just to be told they’re praying for him?

It gets dirtier.

The EB operate many businesses. Under an exemption granted in 2000, the EB are not required to grant access by union representatives to their workplaces. This extraordinary exemption was granted (and, ironically, supported by the Greens) in line with the allegedly “detached” stance of the sect. This exemption remains, despite clear evidence to the contrary.

Bennelong (the Prime Minister’s electorate) is home to a large number of EB, including the son of the Elect Vessel, Gareth Hales. In the 2005-06 financial year, an EB school in Bennelong received $70,000 in federal funding, an amount acknowledged to be “disproportionate” in relation to the school’s size and comparative funding for public schools. (I’m still tracking the source for this.)

We’re firmly mired in a “non-election campaign” right now. Already, we’re seeing overt EB involvement. The real problem, however, may be nowhere near that easy to spot. The EB have been incredibly covert in their operations, hiding behind innocuous company names registered at the last minute, and vanishing after the elections. When EB members are found to be behind these initiatives, the leadership inevitably claims that it is the work of “individuals exercising their right to free speech”. In fact, after the New Zealand debacle, 7 members fell on their own swords in a television press conference and claimed it had nothing to do with the church. Even if you grant the possibility – and it’s a real stretch of the imagination, given the amount of money, time, organisation and manpower involved, to think this is one guy with a printer and an agenda – the visit by the EB leader to the Prime Minister pretty much gives the lie to that.

The questions have to be asked.

Why did Mr Howard think it was necessary to drop everything for a ‘social chat’ with a group who have broken electoral laws in FOUR countries and a man personally under investigation by the Australian Federal Police for his support of the Liberal-National coalition?

Why hasn’t the EB had its exemptions revoked, given their clear shift in doctrine?

Can Mr Howard really claim that he is unaware of the EB’s mud-slinging, illegal activities? Does he expect the Australian people to believe that he does not expect the same kind of tactics to be used this time around?

Most damningly … what has Mr Howard promised the EB in return for their support?

Mr Rudd refused point-blank to meet with the EB. He labelled them an extremist cult and sect, and repeated his 2006 call for a review of federal funding to EB schools, based on the EB’s deceptive and mud-slinging behaviour in politics.

(Amusingly, in a letter to the EB school in Norman Park dated 31/5/07, Mr. Rudd informed the institution that they had won a grant of computer equipment. The letter praises the school’s “dedication to providing the highest quality of education”. The full text of the letter is quoted in the Courier-Mail story cited above. Apparently, it’s a form letter. Mr Rudd should, perhaps, read what’s put in front of him before endorsing it.)

A final word : way back in February, Mr Howard sent Sen Bill Heffernan around to Coalition MPs, warning them not to accept offers of help or money from the EB. Back then (during series of newspaper reports on their political interference, and attempts to influence the Family Court), the EB were, apparently, “too hot to handle”.

What’s changed?

EDIT : (Thanks to redwolfoz for the info.)

It appears that the EB are going back to the tried-and-true political strategy of hiding behind leaflets allegedly written by “ordinary” people. The Sydney Star Observer published an article yesterday suggesting that the EB were responsible for some leaflets making the rounds in Wentworth (home electorate of Malcolm Turnbull, the “Environment” Minister currently under fire over a proposed pulp mill in Tasmania). The SSO helpfully provided a scan of the leaflet.

Although it doesn’t say it’s the EB, the similarities with the Tasmanian leaflet from last year’s State election are very suspicious.

Wentworth = authored by “concerned Australian Christians”.
Tasmania = authored by “concerned Tasmanian families”.

Wentworth = “Don’t vote Labor/Green Coalition!”
Tasmania = the Greens are “pushing for a coalition with Labor”.

Wentworth = strong language about Labor/Greens apparently “turning a blind eye” on illegal drugs, supporting “the destruction of the Family Unit” through same-sex marriages
Tasmania = same topics, but milder language (“legalise same-sex marriage”, “decriminalise illegal drugs”)

Et cetera.

Some things I personally find very alarming about the Wentworth leaflet (and that I’m sure will worry the Dominionist-watchers among us) : the language (which is hysterical and aggressive) is specifically aimed at painting the Liberal/National coalition as the only hope for “Christian” Australia … and the rather curious accusation that a Rudd Labor government would “subordinate Australia to the United Nations”.

The latter idea is straight out of fundamentalist end-times doctrine. According to these groups (and popularised by Tim LaHaye), the UN is, in fact, the Great Beast of Revelation 13 – sometimes referred to as the Antichrist. End-time prophecy is not normally associated with the EB, but with the similarities between the Wentworth leaflet and the one that we know to be EB, I think it’s time to start worrying.

Impolite Dinner Conversation – the Australian Christian Lobby

October 2, 2007

You know that there things you ‘just don’t talk about’ at the dinner table, right? Especially not with your parents – or your partner’s parents.

I am, of course, referring to religion and politics. It’s not a subject for polite dinner conversation. In my parents’ house, it’s not a subject for conversation at all – Neocon Christian parents don’t really want to hear from their slight-left-of-centre Witch offspring. No, no – religion and politics are subjects best left out of any meaningful communication.

So let’s talk about them. Specifically, let’s talk about the influence of religious belief – most often evangelical Christian – on the Australian political landscape. With an upcoming election, let’s especially talk about the level of pandering that’s going on by both major parties – who they’re pandering to, how they’re doing it, and what the effect of this is turning out to be. And let’s poke a little into the allegiances of the people who would be our elected representatives.

This post is the first in a series on the subject. Let’s kick off with a good one.

To start off, let’s focus on an evangelical Christian group that claims to speak for “all” Christians – the so-called “non-denominational” Australian Christian Lobby. We’ll start by examining a couple of its claims, made on its own website.

CLAIM : There are 13 million people who identified as “Christian” on the 2001 Census.

ASSUMPTION : All these people will, naturally, have identical values and priorities.

FACT : The figure of 13 million (which I haven’t checked personally, but will grant) includes all sects of Christianity, from Maronite Catholic to Quaker and everything in-between. Even assuming that each member of each sect subscribes completely to that sect’s values (and many sects don’t presume to dictate such things), there is still a world of difference between the “no-contraception” Catholic and the “pro-choice” Anglican.

CLAIM : ACL is “neither denominationally nor politically aligned”.

ASSUMPTION : The organisation, therefore, will not push a specific sect’s agenda, and can therefore be safely joined by all 13 million “Christians”.

FACT : It’s pretty sneaky. In fact, you have to dig to see it. But take a look – ACL helpfully lists a few of the organisations to which it tithes. These organisations include the Fatherhood Foundation (closely linked with the Australian Family Association, whose major mover and shaker, Bill Muehlenberg, might best be described as Bill O’Reilly with a Bible) and Samaritan Strategy’s “AIDS Hope for Africa” project, whose core belief statement reads like a primer in Dominionist theology (right down to “establishing Christ’s kingdom on Earth”). Both these organisations, along with many of the links they provide and the people behind them, have a basically evangelical outline that would be extremely unpalatable to anyone with a belief in women’s ordination, religious tolerance and civil rights for homosexual couples.

But you don’t find that out unless you really look. On the face of it, ACL is an “everyChristian” organisation.

And both John Howard and Kevin Rudd nearly fell over themselves to address their “Make it Count” conference, held on August 11 this year. Simultaneously webcast, ACL trumpets that somewhere between 80-100,000 people were present or viewing online. They’ve helpfully provided a full transcript of both leaders’ speeches. To save your bandwidth, however, let’s just look at the highlights.

Howard’s Speech

The PM starts by positioning himself as just a humble Christian guy who can’t understand why people would think it strange that he wishes people “Merry Christmas”. This is, of course, an outrageous distortion of legitimate media inquiry into his insisting that his party members do the same thing.

Moving on, he makes a point of acknowledging that “God is neither Liberal nor Labor” – but then immediately follows that up by humbling submitting that many of the Coalition are “extremely active” members of Christian denominations, and that their faith naturally influences their decision-making. Just to make sure the audience got the message, he adds this, of course, is especially true of issues like the RU-486 abortion drug and stem-cell research.

And there’s a lovely little moment when he polishes that “down home” image by waxing lyrical about “two parables of Jesus” that exemplify his own attempts to bring his Christian beliefs into politics. This, perhaps, is the single most schizophrenic part of his speech. First, he gives us the Good Samaritan, who reminds him to help the oppressed and recognise the inherent worth of every individual. Then he offers up the parable of the Talents – what he calls “the free enterprise” parable. I shit you not. Jesus, apparently, is a good capitalist.

Much of the rest of his speech is a justification of his appalling legislation, such as WorkNOChoices. One could be forgiven for falling asleep – but then there’s this, and I’m going to quote it because, well, you’ll see :

“In the time that I’ve been Prime Minister, as well as trying to, with the help of my colleagues, deliver good policy, I have, consistent with my respect for the secular nature of Australian society – secular in the sense only that we do not recognise or practise the establishment of any religion in this country, and we recognise in a proper fashion the separation of Church and State – I have, consistent with that, sought, on all occasions that might be properly available, to extend in a legitimate fashion the role and the influence of the Christian church in our society because I believe it is a force for the profound good of our nation.” (my emphasis)

Did you get it? Yep, that’s right – because we’re a secular society, Howard feels compelled to push for extensive “Christian” intervention. And somehow, that isn’t undermining a secular society. (I take it back – the parable moment isn’t the most schizophrenic. This is.) This is particularly nasty, and part of a masterful setup. Howard’s positioned himself as “one of the good guys”, flattered Christians as to their natural fairness and moral superiority, and now justifies the erosion of separation of Church and State on exactly these grounds.

Roll out the list of Howard’s faith-based funding. The Job Network system has many “great Christian welfare agencies”. Christian organisations like Centacare get funding to counsel people on their marriage problems. The School Chaplaincy program, which is a particular bugbear of mine, is exclusively Christian and designed to make it impossible for other faiths to participate. And finally, school systems. You see, according to Howard, federally funding only secular government schools is “sectarian”. Extending funding to private religious schools brings “justice” to the system.

Finally, Howard reiterates the Song of Praise for Christians in Australia. He even has the hide to call them the “silent, toiling” masses – blatantly pandering to a martyr complex that evangelicals just love to cultivate. He flat-out confirms he is promoting a Christian view of society, and that there will be no goddamn heathens opening Parliament with their Satanic prayers (such as happened recently in the US). In fact, he all but hands the Parliament over.

Rudd’s Speech

Still with me?

Rudd also trots out the census stats. He acknowledges, at least, that different Christians have different views. (Gosh, who’d have thunk it?) These different views, he asserts, have just as much right to be heard, and to be addressed, as any other. (Remember this one – we’ll come back to it in later posts, when we talk about the Exclusive Brethren.)

He does a nice little dance between flattering the audience and reminding them that they’re not the only voice out there. Listing a series of Christian charity initiatives – which, by the way, does not include any evangelical groups – he praises their efforts as instrumental in helping shape Australia, he immediately follows up by reiterating the efforts of other unnamed groups, and reminding people that we’re (allegedly) a tolerant and diverse nation.

In fact, let’s take a look at that. In his speech (which went for about 36 minutes), Rudd hammers the point about tolerance, equal rights, non-discrimination and diversity nine times. Of course, that doesn’t stop him from outrageously flattering the audience. To hear Rudd tell it, Christians are so absolutely essential to the wellbeing of the nation that it’s a wonder any of the rest of us can get anything done.

He finishes up with a speech that seems to be straight out of the New Labor textbook – hard heads on the economy, soft hearts on the social sphere. It’s unashamedly schmaltzy, and ends with a clumsy paean to that most “visionary” of books, the Bible. Compared to Howard’s slick marrying of Neocon economic rationalism and the necessity of Christian (read : evangelical) influence on society, Rudd looks decidedly uncomfortable.

The real interest in Rudd’s speech, however, is in what he does not say. He professes to be a person of faith, but he won’t spell out just what faith, other than to intimate it’s some kind of grass-roots, individual-conscience Christianity. There’s no mention of RU-486 or stem cell research, no appeal to the Christian conscience of politicians. He does slip in a little barb at WorkNOChoices that’s designed to hit the audience where it hurts – how, he wonders, can one plan to take one’s family to church if one’s employer can change shifts and holidays around however they like? There’s a big section on climate change, and he makes a point of talking about the science as done and dusted, contrasting Howard’s “well, we don’t quite know” speech rather effectively. But mostly, he concentrates on bread-and-butter issues – balancing work and family, affordable housing, foreign aid to impoverished countries, literacy and numeracy skills and education funding (in this he’s no different from Howard – all schools get funding, public or private).

The Wrap-Up

So, at the end of the day, we have a Prime Minister who says he will push a “Christian” agenda in secular society because it’s the right thing to do, and an Opposition Leader (or, as he described himself, an “alternative Prime Minister”) who’s willing to pander – but only up to a point, it seems. Howard’s stance looks pretty clear – and whether you think he’s a true believer or a shrewd manipulator of the market (as Marion Maddox, author of the marvellous God Under Howard, asserts), it potentially spells trouble.

As for Rudd, well, he’s being a bit more cagey. Let’s poke him some more, shall we?

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