I'll meet with Exclusive Brethren, says Abbott

AAPF, Australia/August 22, 2007

Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott has said he has met with members of the Exclusive Brethren sect before, and may do so again.

Mr Abbott today said he had met with members of the ultra-conservative Christian group, although not recently.

"I certainly don't believe I have had any recent meetings but, look, I will meet them again if I get the chance," he said.

Prime Minister John Howard has faced criticism today after a private meeting two weeks ago with a Brethren member.

The member, Mark Mackenzie, is under police scrutiny after his company channelled $370,000 into advertising in support of Mr Howard at the 2004 election, Fairfax newspapers reported today.

Mr Abbott said he had no problem with his colleagues meeting members of the Exclusive Brethren.

"They are Australians, they are citizens," he said of the sect members.

"I have no reason to think they are not people of decency and goodwill, and I have absolutely no problem with colleagues meeting with them now or in the future."

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