With controversial Korean religious leader Sun Myung Moon and his band of religious followers known as the Moonies are due to hit Australia next week, Australia’s small Moonie community is gearing up for one heck of a religious love-in.

86-year-old Moon, who is known to his supporters as The Messiah and owns the ultra-conservative Washington Times newspaper in the US capital, will host a gathering of believers at the Sheraton Hotel on December 7 to celebrate the launch of his new Universal Peace Federation.

Moonies Oceania representative John Coles told Crikey some of the country’s most high profile public figures would be heading to the Sheraton Hotel to hear Moon speak, including former prime ministers and some other “very important people,” although he wouldn’t say exactly who.

A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration confirmed that they had received a Visa application for a Moon visit and it was currently being considered. Earlier this month the UK lifted a travel ban on Moon and allowed him into the country for the first time in 10 years, ruling that he was unlikely to cause any public disturbance and that he was no longer a threat to society.

Moon has been a controversial figure ever since he set up his Family Federation for World Peace and Unification in Korea in 1954. In the 70s Moon took his Unification Church to the US, where he was criticised for running a bogus mind control cult, overseeing mass weddings and, according to Wikipedia, handing out flowers at airports around the country. In 1982 Moon was found guilty of US tax fraud and spent 13 months of an 18-month sentence behind bars before getting out early on good behaviour.

Australia has a colourful history when it comes to controversial international figures, refusing Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams entry to the country in 1996 as well refusing entry to Holocaust “revisionist” David Irving on a number of occasions on grounds of poor character. But at 86, it seems unlikely Moon will be refused entry to Australia as his influence looks to be waning. We wait to see if they can fill the 500-seat Sheraton.