Out of nowhere in 2004, this obscure religious sect burst on to the political stage in Australia. Almost unheard of until then, the Exclusive Brethren was suddenly spending up big in election advertising in support of conservative political parties. But its members were shy to the point of paranoia about who they were - preferring, as they said, to "fly under the radar". Brethren members assiduously lobbied politicians, but did not vote. And they were very close to then prime minister John Howard.