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Steve Cannane has Scientology book news, and helps us with a Down Under history lesson

SteveCannane2Here’s a bit of news we’ve been keeping under our hat. Steve Cannane, one of Australia’s excellent television journalists who cover Scientology, told us some time ago that he’d signed a contract to write a book about Scientology’s history Down Under.

Scientology has a long and controversial background in Australia, and Cannane has been hard at work interviewing people and digging up documents for his book. He doesn’t have a publication date for us yet, but he agreed to let us reveal that his project is nearing completion after we pestered him recently with a question about an obscure document.

The document first came up because researcher Martin Ottmann brought it to our attention. It’s something that Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard wrote in 1966 about a disastrous government investigation in Australia and what effect it might have on his prospects in England, where he’d been living for seven years. We sent a copy of the document to Cannane, and he ended up writing a fascinating exegesis of Hubbard’s memo for us.

We think it should give you some glimpse of the kind of work Steve is doing in his book, and it helped us see how several disparate elements of Scientology history all fit together. We’ll post the document after Steve’s analysis, which begins here…

This document is a fascinating piece of Scientology history. It centres around a “rumour” that British MP Lord Balniel is about to call for an inquiry into Scientology in the UK. Hubbard dismisses the threat, writing that “it isn’t anything to worry about.” Not quite. Hubbard is beginning to feel the heat, as Scientology’s troubles in Australia spill into England.

How Hubbard handles this threat will change Scientology forever. Within twelve months he will have set up the Guardian Office and the Sea Organization, and he will go into self-imposed exile. All of these significant moments in Scientology history can be traced back to an inquiry held in far off Australia.


In the 1950s, Hubbard saw Australia as some kind of Promised Land. During a visit to Melbourne he told local Scientologists that Australia would be the world’s first “Clear continent.” He described it as, “the country, perhaps, with the greatest and brightest future on the face of Earth today.” But things had changed by the time this document was published in 1966. By then, Scientology’s founder considered Australia a brutal, backward country incapable of escaping its convict past.

In 1963, the Australian state of Victoria held the world’s first government inquiry into Scientology. It ran for nearly eighteen months, taking evidence from over one hundred and fifty witnesses. Kevin Anderson QC, who lead the one-man board of inquiry, was appalled by what he found. “Scientology is evil,” he wrote, “its techniques evil; its practice a serious threat to the community, medically, morally and socially.” In December 1965, Victoria became the first place in the world to ban Scientology.

Hubbard was 17,000 kilometres away in East Grinstead, England, but could not avoid the fallout. As Roy Wallis points out in The Road to Total Freedom, “It was not until 1965 that mention of Scientology began to appear systematically in the British Press.” The reports invariably referred to the inquiry in Victoria. England however, was different. This is where Hubbard lived, had based Scientology headquarters and made much of his money from trainees at Saint Hill Manor. He could not afford to upset the authorities in the UK.

By the time Hubbard wrote this memo, it was no rumour that “some lord” was going to ask a question in Parliament about an inquiry. Two days earlier, Lord Balniel, Conservative MP For Hertford and the chairman of the National Association for Mental Health, had got up in the House of Commons and asked the Health Minister whether he would initiate an inquiry into Scientology, stating, “In view of the scathing criticism by an official board of inquiry in Australia into the so-called practice of Scientology, surely the right honorable Gentleman considers that it is in the public interest to hold a similar type of inquiry in this country?”

The Health Minister, Kenneth Robinson, said he had no plans for any form of inquiry. But the Scientologists did. Hubbard in this memo lays out a plan to “Get a detective on that lord’s past to unearth the tid-bits. They’re there.” Hubbard is still obviously seething about how he was treated in Australia, writing “England’s Parliament is not about to pass or even introduce law barring religion or philosophy. After all these aren’t ex-convicts.” But Hubbard was sufficiently concerned to follow through with his threat to investigate Lord Balniel.

Ten days after Lord Balniel’s intervention in Parliament, Hubbard set up a “Public Investigation Section,” which would employ private detectives from outside Scientology ranks. Vic Filson answered an advertisement in the Daily Telegraph and was the first to be hired. “I was told that the first victim who was to be investigated was to be Lord Balniel.”said Filson. The private investigator resigned from the job in disgust and took his story to the press. The following month the Public Investigations Section became the Guardian Office. Hubbard would now have his own loyal band of Scientologists available to spy on his critics.

In August, there were further calls for an inquiry into Scientology in the UK, after revelations that Karen Henslow, a 30 year old Sussex woman had ended up in psychiatric care following Scientology processing. Her mother Hilary Henslow, and the psychiatrist looking after her demanded the Health Minister set up an inquiry. Initially the Minister resisted, but the case of Karen Henslow would haunt Hubbard. It gained national media attention and led to an adjournment debate on Scientology in the House of Commons.

Hubbard was feeling the pressure and looking for an escape route. The master of reinvention was about to blindside even his closest followers. His “Pope of Scientology,” John McMaster, got a hint of what was coming, “You know, John,’ he told McMaster, “we have got to do something about all this trouble we are having with governments. There’s a lot of high-level research still to be done and I want to be able to get on with it without constant interference. Do you realize that 75 per cent of the earth’s surface is completely free from the control of any government? That’s where we could be free — on the high seas.” Hubbard was about to form the Sea Organization.

A final point on this document, Hubbard appears to be saying that he agreed to the inquiry in Victoria that set off this chain of events, but with conditions applied. “I okayed only this: That we agree into an Enquiry into all mental Health Services and activities. This was the order.” This statement reads like historical revisionism. The inquiry was only ever going to be about Scientology. I’ve accumulated evidence, including a previously unpublished letter from Mary Sue Hubbard, that I believe shows Hubbard did approve of an inquiry into Scientology. But you’ll have to wait for the book to come out for that.

We can’t wait! And if you have any tips or suggestions for Steve, drop him a line. Now, here’s the 1966 document we’re talking about, followed by a transcript.


L. Ron Hubbard on Australian investigation, 1966


1. The “news” that some lord [Lord Balniel] is “going to ask a question in the House as to why the Health Minister here does not conduct an Enquiry into Scientology like in Melbourne” as published in the “News of the World” which we are sueing gives us this planning.

2. First, it isn’t anything to worry about.

3. Melbourne went awry because it was a non-compliance. Hemery gave the Melbourne Office permission to agree to an Enquiry. I okayed only this: That we agree into an Enquiry into all mental Health services and activities. This was the order. Hemery or Williams narrowed it to Scientology only.

4. Obviously we could have had a ball and put psychiatry on trial for murder, mercy killing, sterilization, torture, and sex practices and could have wiped ou[t] psychiatry’s good name.

5. That went wrong and Melbourne wouldn’t follow any other order either. So it was a mess.

6. If we are ever so involved again we demand one or all mental healing activities including psychiatry and demand it loudly. And lead them up the path to slaughter.

7. Planning would be If any more is heard of this:

(1) Mary Sue will write a letter for the Chaplain to all members of Parliament and have it photolithoed and if it hots up mail it to all members of Parliament.

(2) Get a detective on that lord’s past to unearth the tid-bits. They’re there.

(3) Stress sex and blood in psychiatry and collect data and mount an all out attack in the press on psychiatry, so that “Mental Health” sees that they are going to get hurt and will cool off.

(4) If an Enquiry after all occurs and we are pulled in, we try only Melbourne’s illegalities all over again (not their transcript) and try psychiatry only. We refuse to discuss or describe Scientology. As near as we come is “Well Scientology isn’t like Psychiatry. In psychiatry they think adultery is a cure for …………..”. You get it. Curve every answer with answers that MAKE LURID PRESS TO PSYCHIATRY’S COST. Papers by policy only want blood and sex – so give them Psychiatry’s and they’ll print it. Further couple the words Psychiatry and Capitalism – allege that Psychiatry is the Capitalist tool (a Conservative opened the attack in the UK) and found the press beating the drum for us.

(5) Refuse to let the enemy introduce Melbourne transcripts as suits are in progress – “sub-judice”. Use only Melbourne illegalities.

8. Remember these things – we won against the FDA. We are winning on US tax. We have caught the ball on UK tax. Part of our trouble is that we’re an up statistic and governments are SP and strike at all rising statistics. (See Income Tax scales of tax; as your wage rises the penalty percentage rises.)

9. The Melbourne staff set up a nice new org in Adelaide and other states in Australia are revolted at Victoria.

10. The US is clean operating ground.

11. And England’s Parliament is not about to pass or even introduce law barring religion or philosophy. After all these aren’t ex-convicts.

12. These flurries can be expected. Plan for them and handle.

13. This is nothing compared to what will happen when we start taking SPs out of the government. They are rightly afraid.

14. So don’t you be. Tomorrow belongs to us. Inevitably there are bumps in the road.



Int Base inundated

Three straight days of rain have brought mudslides in Riverside County, California, and news reports say several people had to be rescued from cars that were trapped in mud on Gilman Springs Road. That’s the road that bisects Scientology’s secretive International Base, on some 500 acres of land in what was once the Gilman Hot Springs resort. TV reports have made reference to property at the mudslides site being owned by “Golden Era Productions,” which is the name of Scientology’s audiovisual division.

Mudslides are nothing new at Int Base, which lies in a flood plain. Lawrence Wright, in Going Clear, recounts one time around 1990 when Scientology leader David Miscavige was enraged when a mudslide ruined the good time he was trying to show Tom Cruise and his new girlfriend, Nicole Kidman: “When a flood triggered a mudslide that despoiled the couple’s romantic bungalow, Miscavige held the entire base responsible, and ordered everyone to work sixteen-hour days until everything was restored to its previous pristine condition.”

If anyone knows of any specific damage to the base this time, please let us know.


Posted by Tony Ortega on December 5, 2014 at 07:00

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Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS (We read Scientology’s founding text) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

UP THE BRIDGE (Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN (Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING (Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49

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