The Advertiser (Adelaide), 14 Jan 1972, p2

Fresh approach in S.A. to scientology

SA scientologists who believe the State Government will this year move to legalise their activities may be cheering a little too soon.

Certainly the Government does plan to repeal the Scientology (Prohibition) Act.

The Attorney-General (Mr. King) confirmed this in the Assembly on November 25, the last sitting day of State Parliament last year.

But he added that the Chief Secretary (Mr. Shard) was "currently working on a scheme to enable legislation to be introduced providing for the registration of psychologists and the control of the profession of psychological services."

Such legislation may turn out to be a more real obstacle to scientologists than the present Act has been.

The Act, introduced by the Hall Government, became law in February, 1969, following prolonged debate and a fair amount of acrimony in both Houses.

The Bill was considered by a Legislative Council select committee and a leading scientologist, alleged to have imputed bias to the committee, was called before the bar of the Council and censured.

Another took out a Supreme Court writ claiming damages for conspiracy against the Ministers of Health of SA (then Mr. DeGaris), Victoria, WA and NSW.

In the Assembly the Government continued the debate until after 3 a.m. one day in an unsuccessful effort to dispose of the Bill before the 1968 Christmas recess.

Mr. Dunstan, then Leader of the Opposition, described it as a signal departure from the rule of law.

"Surely people in this community are to be allowed to practise what they believe to be right, even if we disagree with it," he said.

"If they are in the minority, they still have the right to their own views and the practice of them, so long as those views do not interfere with others in society."

Mr. Dunstan suggested then that the proper course would be to register all psychologists and to prohibit psychological practices for fee or reward, except when carried out by trained and registered psychologists.

Mr. Millhouse, then Attorney-General, admitted that the Bill "does, to some extent, infringe on the liberties of individuals ... but I believe that the evils of scientology and its undesirable features are so great as to justify the way we are approaching the problem."

The Act describes scientology as the system of the study of knowledge or human behaviour advocated or described in the writing of Lafayette Ronald Hubbard and disseminated by the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International.

It includes any teachings or system based on or derived from those writings or from dianetics.

The Act makes it an offence to demand or receive a fee for teaching scientology, to advertise or hold oneself out as being willing to teach it, or to use, without authority, a galvanometer (commonly known as an E meter, a device for detecting or measuring emotional reactions).

It also requires all scientological records to be delivered to the Attorney-General, who may have them destroyed.

Records were obtained in a police raid on scientology premises in 1969, but there have been no prosecutions.

This is despite the fact that scientologists have continued to practise in SA, under the name of the Church of the New Faith.

The president (Mr. T. B. Minchin) said yesterday that there were 500 active members in SA.

He felt "confident" that the civil liberties of scientologists would be protected under new legislation now being considered.

Australian scientologists were heartened last year when a WA court granted exemption from National Service to one of their members on the ground that he was a minister of religion.

And scientologists the world over claim to be delighted with a UK report, published last month, following an official enquiry by Sir John Foster, QC, into their organisation and its teachings.

The report recommends that the 1968 ban on foreign scientologists entering Britain should be lifted, that the practice of psychotherapy for fee or reward should be controlled by legislation and that a professional body should be set up to approve or disapprove courses.

The practice of scientology has never been banned in Britain and it claims a membership of more than 160,000 there.

It is banned, however, in Victoria, WA and SA.

Scientologists have welcomed indications from the WA and SA Labor Governments that the bans will be lifted there and have bitterly attacked Sir Henry Bolte for not planning to repeal the Victorian legislation.

Sir John Foster, in his report, refrained from any opinion on whether scientology was harmful, but it is still regarded in some quarters as undesirable and potentially damaging to the mental health of some adherents.

It is clear that the SA Government also has no enthusiasm for scientology.

But it objects strongly to the discriminatory nature of the present Act.

The exact terms of the proposed SA legislation for the registration of psychologists are not yet settled but it will probably prohibit practices likely to have evil or undesirable consequences.

To escape its provisions scientologists, like others, will have to practice their beliefs without indulging in evil or undesirable practices.

[photo] MR. T. B. MINCHIN ... president of the Church of the New Faith.