Cults of revolt

Courier Mail/July 27, 2001
By Terry Sweetman

A Failure of mainstream politics to satisfy the aspirations of all citizens has led to a proliferation of do-nothing parties wielding considerable ballot box influence. As ultimately impotent as they are, they have a role in the democratic process. However, we are now faced with so-called parties that are, in fact, cults.

One Nation arguably is prisoner of the cult of personality, witnessed by the absolute failure of former members who ran with the same policies under a non-Hanson flag in the Queensland poll. But the one party that seems to definitely belong to the dark world of cultism is the Citizens' Electoral Council. The CEC, a Queensland political invention that gave us Trevor Perrett (who defected to the Nationals and fell victim to a sex scandal), is now run from Victoria.

It represents itself as a party, with eight Queensland House of Representative candidates and one Senate aspirant lined up for the federal election, but runs on a platform of pseudo-scientific nonsense. It is immediately suspect because of its parentage in the bizarre movement of international scam merchant Lyndon LaRouche, from which it is not easily distinguishable.

The latest LaRouchean craziness is a warning that shadowy forces pushing a ``Clash of Civilization's might eliminate Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to unleash right-wing Israeli fanatics who would drop nuclear weapons on Arab capitals. This is being orchestrated by such people as (Zbigniew) Brzezinski and Henry Kissinger, White House players from decades past.

The CEC has no mortgage on loopiness, but what does distinguish it are allegations that point to a desire to own its adherents in body and mind.

A distressed reader has told me how she lost her mother to the CEC, a process of alienation from the family that began not long after she was widowed. "She flew to Melbourne to meet them,'' the daughter said. "She was gone four or five days, came home for a week and left -- just like that. She lived, socialized and worked with them. She was never allowed time off to come and visit us except for 10 days at Christmas. They would book her flights so she couldn't stay longer. She had a 'briefing' before she left and a 'debriefing' when she got back. She was always tired as they work from about 8am to 9pm, 5-6 days a week. Mum rang the public and asked for donations. She would usually raise $2,000-$2,500 a week for them. If she didn't meet her quota, then she would have to work on Sunday. She would go for six or seven weeks sometimes without income. I would send her food parcels until I realized she shared everything she had with them. The CEC uses four of mum's credit cards -- with her permission -- even though she has not been in their office for the past year due to cancer. Over the last eight years, mum has bought and sold her home three times. Each time she does this she buys something much smaller and cheaper and donates the difference to CEC. They have received in excess of $85,000 from her that I can account for.'' She says her mother is being psychologically manipulated: "You can always tell when she has been reading CEC's material as she becomes angry and agitated. She believes that they have the truth and give her a `classical' education and teach her 'real' history.''

This might explain why CEC is so much more successful at raising money than winning votes. In the most recent federal election, it ran candidates in all states except South Australia and attracted a total of 8,293 votes. It ran Senate candidates in all states and attracted just 9,402 votes out of 10,613,489. Yet Electoral Office returns to February 1999 show the same outfit managed to raise $1,023,000. In 1999-2000, it picked up $1,113,220, more than Pauline Hanson and more than the Democrats.

You might wonder how much of this actually went on campaigning when the CEC's electoral return reportedly showed it had debts of $1,152,806.62, including $941,115.24 to Publications and General Management in Virginia, the headquarters of the LaRouche organization, $85,409.16 to CEC Australia (Services) Pty Ltd and $45,494.07 to Citizens Media Group Pty Ltd.

Parties must declare all receipts of $1,500 or more. The CEC declared $356,460.10, leaving $756,760. Twelve from sources that presumably included small donations solicited by telephone. At the end of the day, if it looks like a cult, talks like a cult and raises money like a cult, it might just be a cult.

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