Liberal Party members behind same-sex marriage misinformation campaign

Detail from the Children's Future leaflets that feature anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela. Photo: Supplied

Detail from the Children's Future leaflets that feature anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela. Photo: Supplied

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's promise of a "civil" debate over same-sex marriage is unravelling, with the group behind an anti-equality smear sheet distributed in suburban Sydney revealed as members of the Liberal Party.

The group "Children's Future", which has firm links to the secretive Catholic religious society Opus Dei, has made the false claim in leaflets that legalising same sex marriage would trigger the controversial Safe Schools program becoming "compulsory" in all Australian schools, even if parents objected.

Any link between marriage equality and sex education in schools was dismissed by federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham on Thursday, while NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli described the message being pushed by Children's Future as "unhelpful".

The website of Children's Future does not reveal any details about the people behind its mission to "safeguard marriage for future generations".

But Fairfax Media can reveal the three directors of Children's Future Ltd, which has registered the domain name, are members of the NSW Liberal Party in The Hills and described by a senior Liberal as part of the "lunar right".

The faction is also known locally as "the Taliban" due to their hardline religious views. 

John Smyth, 35, who until recently was the secretary of the Galston branch of the Liberals, is also a teacher at Redfield College at Dural, which was founded in 1982 by Opus Dei and supported by Cardinal George Pell.

The school, located near the "bible-belt" suburb of Arcadia is known as the "Arcadian Monastery" in Liberal circles. 

Mr Smyth is listed in Australian Securities and Investment Commission documents as director and secretary of Children's Future Ltd.

Contacted by Fairfax at Redfield, he said he did not have time to make any comment.

"We're not ready to make any comment to the media, call me back later," he said. 

Children's Future was registered on July 29 this year at the address of Benbow and Pike chartered accountants. One of the partners of Benbow and Pike is Gerard Abrams, a member of the Abrams family that is active in the Liberal Party's hard right in The Hills.

The second Children's Future director is Robert Williams, 31, a member of the Cheltenham branch who was a preselector in Berowra in the recent process that saw Julian Leeser replace the outgoing veteran Philip Ruddock in that seat.

He said he would not comment.

The third director is a Paul Woodbury who is understood to be related to Matthew Woodbury, a furniture retailer and influential member of the Catholic right.

A senior Liberal described the group as "too far right for the right".

They are at loggerheads with Damien Tudehope, the state MP for Epping who is openly campaigning against same-sex marriage because they believe he has not been tough enough on the issue, according to a source.

"These guys are off the charts in their views," said a Liberal source.

"But the big question raised by this is what are the rules going to be around transparency and accountability in a plebiscite outside of the publicly funded campaign." 

Trent Zimmerman, the first openly gay Liberal MP, said what causes Liberal Party members pursue in their private lives was a matter for them but warned against spreading misinformation in the debate.

"Trying to connect marriage equality with the Safe Schools program is factually incorrect," he said.  

"It is important that this debate is not coloured by what are cleary inaccurate statements."

Labor senator Penny Wong has questioned whether it will be possible to have a plebiscite about same-sex marriage without such material being distributed.   

"Malcolm Turnbull's own party has put the lie to his promise that his $200 million plebiscite would be a respectful debate.

"This shows he can't even control the extreme right forces in his party who forced him to accept this plebiscite, and are now using it to peddle division and lies."

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