Australian Critics of Scientology
This page maintained by David Gerard.

Early draft at, final draft (PDF) at This thing is REALLY LONG - 120K or so - and the HTML is pretty crappy. But it's an interesting read if you want to cover the area. Below is the entirety of discussion of Scientology.

Free to Believe?

The right to freedom of religion and belief in Australia

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

"Free to Believe?" is Discussion Paper No. 1 released by the office of Chris Sidoti, Human Rights Commissioner, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Australia.


The Australian legal system purports to treat Australia's many different religious communities equally. There is no established or State sponsored religion or church and religious law is not imposed by civil authority. This section of the paper discusses the extent to which the right to freedom of religion is protected and promoted in Australia by examining four relevant sources of law

Defining 'religion'

The High Court considered the threshold issue of defining 'religion' in Church of the New Faith v Commissioner for Pay-Roll Tax (Vic). [15] The Court was asked to decide whether the Church of Scientology was a 'religious or public benevolent institution' for the purposes of the Pay-Roll Tax Act 1971 (Vic).[16] If so, it would be exempt from pay-roll tax on wages paid or payable to its employees. The Court held that the beliefs, practices and observances of the Church of Scientology did, in fact, constitute a religion in Victoria. The judges proposed a number of different tests for the definition of 'religion' under the Act but no definition secured majority support. The narrowest test was proposed by Acting Chief Justice Mason and Justice Brennan and required two elements

Justices Wilson and Deane found no single characteristic that could be a formalised legal criterion for a particular system of beliefs and practices that constitutes a religion. In their view all that can be done is to formulate indicia or guiding principles by reference to which the question is to be decided. They identified five indicia

Justice Murphy also did not propound a definitive 'test' but rejected the first criterion of Chief Justice Mason and Justice Brennan as no longer essential to a definition of religion. Justice Murphy held, in part, that any organisation which claims to be a religious organisation and which offers a way to find meaning and purpose in life is a religious organisation.

15. (1983) 154 CLR 120.
16. s.10.

[Footnote 15 is the High Court decision that Scientology is a religion. 16 refers to Section 10 of the Pay-Roll Tax Act 1971 (Vic).]
[Legal and Government opinions on Scientology]