NEW SOUTH WALES, Western Australia, South Australia, and New Zealand are now catching up with Victoria in the investigation of the international cult of scientology. Last week the New South Wales Government instructed its Director of Psychiatric Services to investigate. This follows an earlier decision to ignore it as comparatively harmless. The change in policy follows the raising of a privilege issue when Mr. R. O. Healey, a Liberal Member of the Legislative Assembly, read a statutory declaration of a private inquiry agent employed by the "Church of Scientology" to collect information on Mr. Healey and several other Members of the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council. The Speaker, Mr. Ellis, ruled that since no actual intimidation had been attempted, no question of privilege was involved. The Minister for Health, Mr. Jago, later announced the new inquiry.
Meanwhile, Mr. Martin Bentley of the "Church of Scientology" has written to all Members of the Legislative Assembly (including the ones being investigated) stating: "We find that anyone who attacks us for crimes or antisocial acts is misinformed" (sic). Of the private inquiry agent, Mr. Bentley said: "He has disappeared. Convenient, isn't it? He is not around to answer up to his lies. Well, the law will deal with him." Members also received a book called "Kangaroo Court" denouncing the Victorian inquiry into scientology as worth of a State founded by criminals, organised by criminals, and devoted to making people criminals. It described Victoria as a legacy of "the riff-raff of London slums, robbers, murderers, prostitutes, thieves - the scourings of Newgate and Bedlam." The situation is complicated now by scientology's claim to be a church entitled to religious freedom. Some critics of scientology accept this claim and regard it as no worse than other insidious sects. Others, however, allege that scientology turns people into zombies and claim that such a "religion" is not entitled to freedom of worship.
The lesson of all these inquiries should be clear to Queensland. Queensland is the only mainland State in which scientology does not operate. If scientology is to one degree or another suppressed in all mainland States as well as New Zealand, Queensland will be the next centre of scientology operations.