Christchurch mayoral hopeful Carl Bromley defends extremists

5:28 pm on 3 September 2022
Anti-government protesters have gathered outside the entrance to Christchurch's Court buildings this morning as Counterspin Media hosts were due to appear in court.

Carl Bromley Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

As conspiracy theorists Kelvyn Alp and Hannah Spierer appeared in Christchurch District Court earlier this week, Christchurch mayoral hopeful Carl Bromley was there to support them.

Christchurch City Council posted its candidate bios for the coming local elections online on Friday.

Bromley's speaks about his three adult children and three grandchildren, his 30 years of work in mental health and the fact he is an ordained pastor.

It also contains a vanilla statement about his advocacy of "the New Zealand Bill of Rights, justice, safety, freedom, and health".

But nothing about his views which could be seen as deeply conservative and conspiratorial.

So RNZ called Bromley to see if he was trying to hide that part of his worldview from voters and why he calls Lee Williams and Kyle Chapman good friends.

Before we get into his support of Counterspin Media's owners - Kelvyn Alp and Hannah Spierer - first you should know what it is they are accused of.

The pair have been charged - though not proven nor convicted at present - of distributing an objectionable publication.

That publication is a purported documentary which contains the Christchurch terrorist's livestream in its entirety.

Chief Censor David Shanks said of it: "This is an abhorrent publication that appears to use the pretext of a 'false flag' conspiracy theory to republish a vile video produced by a terrorist killer.

"It's maker does not seem to care about the pain and distress this will inflict on victims and their whānau, or its impact on New Zealanders generally.

"This exploitative film presents the same harm to the public as the March 15 livestream, while adding a layer of toxic disinformation. We have classified it as objectionable, just as the original livestream was.

"New Zealanders should not engage with this content, and they should report it if they see it. Downloading, sharing and viewing it is an offence, and we have let enforcement agencies including the Police and Department of Affairs know about our decision."

So why did Bromley see the need to support Alp and Spierer?

"The whole bottomline for me is this major heavy censorship we have in this country. It's incredibly abhorrent to me that's there's such a censorship that prevents adult New Zealanders from seeking, researching their own information, and all we seem to be allowed to access is the government's selected narrative," Bromley said.

So did he consider Counterspin Media to be outside the government's selected narrative?

"Yeah on a number of issues they are. Like many people are."

And could he access Counterspin Media?

"Yes, like anyone I can."

So how was it being censored?

Bromley took umbrage with Facebook and other social media giants' policies of tagging or blocking what they consider dis/misinformation or posts in contravention of their guidelines.

It should be pointed out neither Facebook nor Twitter were run by the New Zealand government.

So did Bromley accept the reality the Christchurch terror attacks took place, resulted in the murder of 51 innocent worshippers and was carried out by a 28-year-old white supremacist from New South Wales?

"What happened there was an atrocity by some psychopathic maniac from Australia," he said.

"Yes those terror attacks took place. It's vile and abhorrent."

So why protest someone being charged with sharing material that would deny that reality?

"I'm supporting any adult's right to have their say and have their view about anything," Bromley said.

"Who are these people in government who think they are more knowledgeable or more moral than anyone else to sanction your life and my life and determine whether they think what we say or think is legitimate or not."

So where was the line drawn? Was anything so objectionable that the government should be able to keep even adults from it?

Should sharing child pornography be ok?

"That's to do with children, absolutely not," Bromley said.

So the line could be drawn at anything involving children.

The Christchurch terrorist murdered and maimed children indiscriminately, including a 3-year-old.

"I don't think the murder of children should be online. No," Bromley said, when that was pointed out.

But he remained stoic in his support of Alp and Spierer.

"I think Kelvyn Alp is a very passionate patriot," Bromley said.

"I believe he believes in everything he says and I believe in his heart he wants to have the Bill of Rights upheld and have people question anything."

The key was they shared a conspiratorial worldview on the pandemic and the Covid-19 vaccine.

Only last month, speaking about the country's 120 MPs, Alp told his audience "I reckon you should hang them" over the vaccine rollout.

Bromley's views on the pandemic had come at personal cost.

He admitted his relationship with two of his three children had suffered, and therefore so had his relationship with his three grandchildren.

But what about the company he now kept - what was his view on Lee Williams?

"Lee Williams is a very passionate man about what he believes. He wants justice and equity. He's concerned about racial apartheid in this country - unelected representation in our nation."

Only a week ago, Williams took to YouTube to share his views on how Aotearoa should be run.

"Basically we'll divide New Zealand right across the Cook Strait. The South Island will be non-Māori and the North Island will be Māori and they can rule themselves and we can rule ourselves ... I think it'll be a better deal. We'll see how long the North Island will last. I think it'll be a failed state in five years - guaranteed."

It appeared to be advocacy for apartheid, rather than a fight against.

But Bromley rejected any assertion that Williams held white supremacist views.

Another friend of Bromley's was Kyle Chapman.

Chapman was once convicted of firebombing a marae, the former leader of the National Front and helped in founding the Right Wing Resistance.

He was also a candidate for Alp's Direct Democracy Party in 2005 - which garnered only 782 party votes nationwide.

"Kyle Chapman is one of the most misrepresented, ill-painted men in New Zealand society right now," Bromley said.

"It's absolutely deplorable to me to see the ongoing propaganda around Kyle Chapman. Kyle Chapman has a heart of gold."

When asked if his choice of friends provided insight into him, Bromley said: "I will associate with anyone"

"I love all people. I will sit down with Jacinda Ardern, buy her a coffee, embrace her. I will sit down with anyone, I don't care who it is."

When asked about Philip Arps, Bromley described him as "a man who has a story" but did not consider him someone he knew well or a close friend.

Bromley did not wish to place any ideological or political labels on himself, but was deeply offended by any suggestion his views were far-right.

Bromley believed there had been a decay in the social fabric of New Zealand in the past four decades and when asked for examples of that, he pointed to the legalisation of prostitution, legalisation of same-sex marriage and the passing of the anti-smacking bill.

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