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Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review


published on July 24, 2015

Bernard Doherty
DOI: 10.5840/asrr201572311

Colonial Justice or a Kangaroo Court?
Public Controversy and the Church of Scientology in 1960s Australia

Beginning in the late 1950s what was to become the Church of Scientology in Australia had become a topic of public concern. In response to a highly critical report issued by an official Board of Inquiry in the State of Victoria, held over the course of 1963-1964 under the auspices of Kevin Victor Anderson Q.C., state governments in Victoria (1965), Western Australia (1968) and South Australia (1969) passed legislation to restrict the activities of Scientologists. This legislation proved controversial and largely ineffective and was eventually repealed in all three state jurisdictions. This article provides a preliminary account of the circumstances that occasioned the original Board of Inquiry and the background and parliamentary debates surrounding each piece of legislation. Utilizing archival documents and public records this article examines how this controversial legislation passed into law and how Scientology initially responded to attempts to curtail its activities. The article concludes with a brief account of the circumstances surrounding the repeals of the legislation in Western Australia (1973), South Australia (1974) and finally in Victoria (1982).