VICTORIAN PRECEDENTS were rated highly in South Australia last week when the Chief Secretary, Mr. Degaris, said that legislation would shortly be introduced to curb the cult of Scientology, similar to that which bans the organisation in Victoria. He explained that Scientology had been discussed at the recent conference of Ministers of Health in Darwin, and following this the South Australian Cabinet had been thoroughly investigating the matter in the light of increasing complaints about the organisation made by members of the public.
The Premier, Mr. Hall, also spoke on the proposed measures and in some detail. Referring to the "pernicious theories and illusory goals" of the cult, he went on to describe its beliefs as "an extraordinary mixture of mythology and paranoid fantasy," and to maintain that "all the evidence available is that the organisation is dangerous to mental health, and nothing can be said in favour of it." Since its banning in Victoria, the organisation appears to have set up its headquarters in South Australia. Styled the Church of Scientology, it has of late been increasingly and openly active.
Following the announcement, the organisation itself called for a select committee to which it could put its case, and then threatened to take action for defamation against the Premier if he repeated his statement outside the House. There were also words of caution from the South Australian Council of Civil Liberties. In a letter to the "Advertiser," it held that the Victorian legislation was a blanket ban which removed the necessity of proving, by ordinary processes of law, that Scientologists are, in fact, guilty of misconduct. It felt that what the law should seek to eliminate is not the belief, in itself, but the various forms of misconduct which are attributed to its adherents. It is a point which could be well taken.