The Advertiser (Adelaide), 25 Jun 1977, p23

Sounding out Scientology

From STEPHEN FOLEY in London

Thirteen years after the Victorian Government banned Scientology - branding its founder Lafayette Ron Hubbard a "fraud" - the Church of Scientology is planning a special "commemoration."

Melbourne has been chosen for the 1978 international conference on Scientology - the first held in Australia.

Mr. David Gaiman, world spokesman for the movement, said the choice was "fitting."

He said: "There's a certain dramatic licence in holding the conference in Melbourne. It would mark the end of a cycle."

Scientologists, whose annual world gathering will be held this year in Paris, require a major city to be host to about 8000 delegates, Mr. Gaiman said.

"We were approached last year to hold the conference in Sydney, but I think it would be nice to go to Melbourne."

In a palatial Sussex mansion, screened by rhododendrons, Scientology flourishes in Britain.

Twenty years ago, Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead, became the nesting place for the migratory "mind cult" founded by one-time science fiction writer Lafayette Ron Hubbard.

Hubbard, branded a "fraud" by the Victorian Pariament in 1965, was banned from Britain three years later following a Government clampdown here on the sect.

Hubbard, now in his 60s, is said to be based in Florida, writing and researching.

In England, despite a nine-year-ban on aliens coming here to study it, Scientology claims to be in no danger of disappearing.

Hundreds of disciples, mostly Australians, Americans and South Africans flock to their world HQ at Saint Hill Manor, acquired from the Maharajah of Jaipur in 1959.

In Britain, the church boasts more than 200,000 devotees.

In Australia, church leaders here estimate a following between 25,000 and 30,000.

But while public scepticism appears, in part, to have softened, the spectre of Scientology still arouses concern.

In Britain the church, using several "faces," has spread its tentacles, attacking bureaucracy, campaigning for wide-ranging reform in mental health and in penal and psychiatric institutions.

The church at present is entwined with the All-Party Parliamentary Committee for Freedom of Information and a private Member's Bill aimed at breaking down the walls of Government secrecy.

Freedom of information and safeguarding privacy are probably the two most crucial - and sensitive - issues confronting the church today.

Scientologists have been waging for some time a campaign to gain access to records held on its members at Scotland Yard, the Home Office and elsewhere.

The SA prohibition on Scientology was lifted on March 6, 1975.

Scientology was banned in SA in 1968 under legislation introduced by the Hall Government.

The Dunstan Government reversed this decision in legislation which passed through Parliament in 1974, but delayed formal assent for the Bill until a broader Psychological Practices Act could be effected.

Under the Act, anyone engaged in any form of psychology for fee or reward had to be registered through a board which would consider all credentials before granting approval.

In Adelaide, the Church of Scientology sponsors the Citizens Committee on Human Rights, the Criminal Rehabilitation and Education Advancement Movement, the Society for the Protection of the Privacy of the Individual and a group known as Dignity for the Aged.

[photo] Lafayette Ron Hubbard ... branded a fraud by the Victorian Government.