Scientology inquiry fails again
March 18, 2010
The Government and Opposition have again blocked Independent Senator Nick Xenophon's moves for a Senate inquiry into the Church of Scientology.
But the failed motion has not deterred Senator Xenophon's desire to probe the church's activities and he will move another motion when Parliament sits in May.
Senator Xenophon wanted the Senate to examine whether the criminal code is adequate to deal with allegations of abuse and harassment made by former church members.
He also wanted the inquiry to consider the adequacy of labour laws and occupational health and safety rules for those working for the church.
"This is about law reform, about the protection we need to give to individuals who are caught up in an organisation that acts unconscionably," he said.
But the Government says the allegations are best investigated by police.
"I'm not a great supporter of what I've seen of the operations of either the Exclusive Brethren or the Church of Scientology," Government Senate Leader Chris Evans said.
"What I am strongly against is any suggestion that the Senate processes be used in a way which I don't think fits with the Senate."
The Opposition has also given the same reasons for blocking the inquiry.
The Church of Scientology has welcomed Senator Xenophon's failure to establish an inquiry into its activities, saying the whole process was a witch-hunt designed to lift his profile.
Spokesman Cyrus Brooks says ex-members with any allegations should go to the police.
"It is not the role of Parliament to investigate any religious organisation or seek to use Parliament as a forum for an unfounded attack on any religion," he said.
"The church reiterates that Senator Xenophon's allegations, old and new, are utterly without foundation."
Earlier today federal MPs met with a group of ex-Scientology members outside Parliament House in Canberra who were rallying in support of the inquiry.
Nationals Senators Barnaby Joyce and Nigel Scullion, Greens Senators Scott Ludlam and Christine Milne and Labor backbencher Jodie Campbell spoke with a group of around a dozen former members about their experiences with the church.
Among the group was Janette Lang who yesterday made claims that she was pressured to have two abortions or be cut off from the Church.
Nationals Senator Nigel Scullion said he supported the inquiry but would not be crossing the floor to vote for it without his colleagues' support.
"Xenophon is a stubborn bastard and he's going to keep going and good luck to him," he said.
Last week Senator Xenophon failed in his bid to have the Senate examine the church after last year airing allegations of forced abortions and abuse by some former members.
The church yesterday rejected Ms Lang's allegations, saying her abortions were a personal decision.
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