Game Over Down Under?
THE VILLAGE VOICE
September 3, 2011
Over the weekend, Melbourne's Herald Sun reported that the Australian government may be about to hand down a decision that will likely bankrupt Scientology in that country.
The church there has been under heavy attack in recent years, led mainly by an independent federal senator, Adelaide's Nick Xenophon, who has pushed for government investigations of Scientology after being presented with evidence of the church's abuse of staff.
worse than losing tax-exempt status
And now, the Herald Sun reports, the country's "workplace watchdog" will soon release a report after an 18-month investigation into the way that Scientology's workers, particularly those in the hardcore Sea Org, are paid far less than minimum wage.
Scientology could be forced to pay millions of dollars in back pay, as well as taxes on that pay, and raise every worker to minimum wage into the future. Former chief Scientology spokesman, Mike Rinder, who himself is from Australia, says such a decision will immediately bankrupt the church there.
"It will be an utter disaster, worse than losing tax-exempt status," he says. (The Australian government has also been reviewing Scientology's tax exempt status, and a decision on that could come soon as well.)
If Scientology were hit with a bill for millions in back pay, Rinder says, they could draw from American reserves to pay it off. "They have the money to do it, but what will happen is, everybody from this point forward will have to be paid, and they cannot do that," he says.
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