Australian Critics of Scientology
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Psychological Practices (Scientology) Bill

Hansard (Victoria), 1982

Lower House (whatever it's called), Victoria, 1982. This is an extract from Hansard; the speaker is Tom Roper, Labor Minister for Health. Pages 719-720, 3 June 1982.


Mr ROPER (Minister of Health) - I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This is a rather brief measure and its object is to repeal those provisions in the Psychological Practices Act 1965 aimed at the practice of scientology in Victoria. The Psychological Practices Act was passed by Parliament in the wake of the Anderson inquiry into Scientology.

Among other things, the Act establishes a body known as the Victorian Psychological Council and vests in the council responsibility for registering those persons who are qualified to practice as psychologists in this State.

Part III of the Act creates a number of offences. These include the use of hypnotism in connection with a public entertainment or advertising by an unregistered person the he is skilled in the practice of psychology. However, it also contains three sections specifically relating to scientology, sections 30, 31 and 32.

Section 30 prohibits the use of an galvanometer E meter or similar instrument except by a registered psychologist or with the consent of the Victorian Psychological Council. Section 31 prohibits the teaching, practice or application of Scientology for fee or reward. Section 32 requires any person in possession of scientological records to deliver such records to the Attorney-General and also empowers the Attorney-General to issue warrants to search persons or premises for such records.

I am sure there is no need for me to say that these provisions have been completely ineffective in curbing Scientology in Victoria. Indeed, in a less emotional atmosphere to that which prevailed in the mid-60s, I have no doubt that such Draconian measures would never have been agreed to by the Parliament.

The law relating to scientology has been breached consistently since it was passed and there appears to have been little effort to enforce it, certainly in recent years. If anything, membership has flourished in the period of its illegality - a similar experience to that of the Communist Party during the period it was banned.

Each of us has his or her own views on scientology as well as the many other sects or cults which exist in society. The important point I wish to make to the House is that no other similar minority group has been singled out by legislation, or its practices subject to prohibition or its records liable to arbitrary seizure.

The Government considers that it is manifestly unfair and unjust that the law should discriminate against any sect or cult in the way the Psychological Practices Act discriminates against scientology. That is not to say the Government endorses Scientology, nor does it endorse any of the other sects, cults or religions in the community. I want to make that point clear in case it is suggested that this measure endorses the practice of scientology.

It can be seen that the Bill, through the repeal of sections 30 through 32 of the Psychological Practices Act, will have the effect of putting scientology on the same footing as the various other groups which currently operate in Victoria.

It is appropriate that I should go on to say that a working party under the chairmanship of Dr J. L. Evans, a member of the Health Commission, has undertaken a complete review of the Psychological Practices Act and recommended a number of changes to its provisions. These are being considered by the Government and further amendments to the Act may well be proposed after interested parties have been consulted. However, I take this opportunity to mention that, although the working party made no recommendations in respect to sections 31 and 32 as it considered these were outside its terms of reference, it did recommend that section 30 should be repealed. The working party made this recommendation on the basis that the use of a galvanometer or E meter was harmless and not particularly useful and that there did not appear to be any particular reason for the retention of the section at the present time. I commend the Bill to the House.

On the motion of Mr LIEBERMAN (Benambra), the debate was adjourned.

It was ordered that the debate be adjourned until Tuesday, June 15.

[Legal and Government opinions on Scientology]