The Liberal Party in Tasmania has finally admitted its role in a “hateful” 2006 state election advertisement after previously playing down links with the religious group funding the advertisement, the Exclusive Brethren.
The admission came ahead of an anti-discrimination hearing to determine the Liberal Party’s links to anti-Greens advertisments in the run-up to the election.
The advertisement hit out at Greens policy, claiming transgender and intersex people “ruin families and society.”
Last week, Tasmanian human rights activist Martine Delaney won an apology from Exclusive Brethren members for the advertisement after settling on a three-year case in the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal.
Delaney, who has agreed to drop the case against the state’s Liberal Party following the admission, said she was pleased with the outcome, but still believes an apology is necessary.
“I am happy with the outcome, but saddened the Liberal Party can admit to assisting the Exclusive Brethren members with the advertising campaign, but not to the harm and offence caused,” she said.
“I didn’t take up the issue just to win the case in the Tribunal. I want lobbyists and political parties to think more carefully before they go attacking other parties, and not target minority groups as some sort of political tool.”
Delaney said she hoped the admission would cause the Liberal Party “sufficient embarrassment” to ensure it didn’t happen again.
In a March 2006 ABC report, former Liberal state director Damien Mantach confirmed he had met with Exclusive Brethren members but denied any financial involvement with the group.
“We don’t have any agreements with them. We’re not working with them. There is no cooperation between the two groups and they just indicated that they have a shared interest in not seeing the Greens get elected,” he told the ABC.
The joint statement issued has since confirmed the Liberal Party used staffers to provide the Exclusive Brethren with a draft version of the advertisment which was signed off by the state director.
An apology from Exclusive Brethren members Roger Unwin and Graham Lewis appeared in Tasmania’s three main newspapers. The Liberal Party has not agreed to do the same.

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