New motion for inquiry to be introduced next week
Labor and the Coalition have been accused of choosing to look away from claims of abuse in the Church of Scientology, by blocking a Senate investigation into the tax-free status of religious groups.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon today failed to win enough support for an inquiry into whether church groups should be subjected to a public benefit test, like that in Britain.
His move was prompted by complaints from former members of the Church of Scientology, and “hundreds” more allegations since first raising the issue.
Claims of forced abortions, imprisonment in boot camps and separation of families were also aired this week on the ABC’s Four Corners program.
Both Labor and the Coalition voted against Senator Xenophon’s move.
Labor frontbencher Joe Ludwig said a Senate inquiry was unwarranted, as there were already two other inquiries looking into taxation matters, including the tax-free status of religious groups.
Liberal senator Eric Abetz said the inquiry would turn the Senate into a “de-facto criminal investigations bureau” and worried it would allow disaffected people from all types of groups to air their grievances.
Senator Xenophon later told reporters he had broadened the scope of the proposed inquiry to look at the tax-free status of all religious groups on “good faith” after talks with both parties.
He will next week introduce another motion for an inquiry into specific allegations against Scientology.
Rudd, Abbott ‘running scared on Scientology’
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has slammed the major parties for blocking his moves for an inquiry into the Church of Scientology.
Senator Xenophon has been calling for a full inquiry into the church since revealing claims of forced abortions and other abuses in Parliament last year.
Today he accused Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of hiding behind process and vowed to continue to fight for further examination of Scientology in Australia.
“There is a certain cowardice in turning your backs on people who ask for help and ask just to be heard,” he said.
“I ask Kevin Rudd and [Opposition Leader] Tony Abbott, what is it about forced abortions you do not want to know about?
“What is it about false imprisonment that you don’t want to know about? I will not turn my backs on the victims of Scientology. I will not let this lie. This issue will not go away.”
Senator Xenophon now says he will move another motion for an inquiry into the church, which he says will focus on specific allegations made against it, next week.