While legislation that trespasses on private belief has no place on the statute-book of an enlightened community, repeal has to navigate round two formidable rocks - the views of the Director of Mental Health Services, Dr A.S. Ellis, and police insistence on safeguards over the use of monitoring devices known as E-metres.
Dr Ellis is adamant that the ban on scientology should remain. He brings the full weight of expert medical opinion behind the contention that scientology is considered a medical, moral and social danger and a threat to family and home life. These are too dangerous waters for laymen to venture forth with an opinion.
On the other hand, Dr Ellis makes the valid point that no-one is forced into scientology, though it does attract the ignorant, weak, credulous and emotionally unstable, and that it is difficult to break away from the cult because of the insidious processing techniques it uses.
Though the police are in favour of repealing the Act, there appears to be some confusion over control of E-meters, and the public has the right to expect Government clarification on this issue. It is not enough to say there is no point in having the meters controlled under the Public Health Act.
The Government's argument for repeal is that the Act is not enforceable as it stands. This is an intolerable situation. Ineffective legislation encourages contempt for the law, but the case for lifting the scientology ban does not rest in the State's difficulties in enforcing it. The real issue at stake is the freedom of people to do as they please - so long as they do no harm to others.
[Note: In the second paragraph, "E-metres" is the spelling used in the original.]