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Monday, 11 May 1987
Page: 2959

Mr GOODLUCK(10.25) —From the outset I must say that I believe quite firmly in the freedom of religion, and if anyone wishes to pursue a particular religion that seems to have a seal of approval, of course they should do that. But being politicians quite often people come to see us and quite often we hear alarming stories but quite often we have not got the time nor-and I use this word-ability to be able to pursue those religions as fervently as we would like. Sometimes we come across pseudo-religious groups that we hear about and we hear people talk about, but we have not got time to find out completely about them.

About four years ago I moved a notice of motion in this House to ask the then Attorney-General to look into some of these pseudo-religious groups that were developing quite rapidly-I use the word rapidly-in Australia. One in particular that I named at the time was the Church of Scientology, because I happened to read an article about the Church of Scientology in the Readers Digest a long time ago, and I have a copy here in front of me. It was the June 1980 edition and the article was: `Scientology, Anatomy of a Frightening Cult'. I read the article very carefully. Of course we hear things and it is very difficult in this world to believe everything that we read and it is sometimes very difficult to believe everything that we hear, but I thought it was worth pursuing because a family came to see me and told me this incredible story about a happening within a particular cult. Then we heard of the developments of the Moonies, of the Jones cult in America, et cetera, and I think most Australians are worried about the matter. But we never seem to be able to do anything about it.

Not so long ago-I think this is fairly prevalent today-the Willesee program, which I do not know much about, was trying to uncover something that happened within the Church of Scientology. So I thought I would pursue it a bit further. I wrote to the Editor of the Readers Digest at that time and he sent me back a little covering note. He was the Editor-in-Chief and Dennis Wallace was his name. The second article that the Readers Digest wrote was dated September 1981. He stated: `This article, published in our September issue, brought such concerned and widespread reaction from our readers that I thought you would be glad to receive a copy. Well, I was. It said in fact: `Eighteen months ago the American based Church of Scientology launched a global and unsuccessful campaign to prevent publication of a Readers Digest report called ``Scientology, Anatomy of a Frightening Cult''. The Church engaged a detective agency to investigate the author-that is the author of the original history of scientology-Eugene Mathine. Digest offices in half a dozen countries were picketed or bombarded with nuisance phone calls in Australia, South Africa, Denmark. The Church took unsuccessful legal action to prevent the publication'.

At Christmas time this year I received this tape and this letter from the Church of Scientology: `I am writing to present you with a copy of a musical cassette entitled ``The Road to Freedom''. This is a collection of songs written by the founder of Scientology applied religious philosophy Mr L. Ron Hubbard. The songs are performed by many well known artists including John Travolta, Karen Black. . .' The letter goes on. So it gives a seal of approval. Now what are we to believe? Are we to believe the articles in the Readers Digest or the letter that was written to me or the tape with John Travolta, Karen Black and all these accomplished artists from America? What are we to believe? Here we have the Willesee program which is trying to outline what has happened to a particular family and it is being stopped by the Church of Scientology. We are in a very difficult position. This is another cult, another pseudo-religious cult, that we know very little about, coming into Australia. We know a bit about the Moonies. I do not wish to condemn them, but I only wish to God that we could find out a bit about them. Who is telling the truth? Is it the Reader Digest, this church, or whom?

We seem to be pursuing vice and other matters in Australia, such as on Four Corners tonight, but we allow such pseudo religious groups to continue unabated, constantly engulfing people into their fold--

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.