New South Wales Liberal Party members are hosting Scientology propaganda screenings in Parliament House, but insist it’s the same invitation they would extend to any “community group” wishing to hold functions at Macquarie Street.
Meanwhile, David Clarke, the hard-right heavy who survived a pre-selection challenge on Friday to retain his upper-house seat, is claiming he was unaware of the film’s link to the religious cult. But this is the second time he has promoted Scientology in parliament.
On Thursday afternoon, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a global Scientology-backed organisation, will screen its film Making A Killing — “the untold story of psychotropic drugging” — at the parliamentary theatrette. Clarke made the booking.
The original booking form has Clarke — a member of the controversial Opus Dei group of Catholics — as sponsor of the event. Crikey understands on discovering the link to Scientology he withdrew his support.
But that doesn’t trouble Liberal colleague Jonathan O’Dea, who is now listed as the sponsor of the screening. O’Dea told Crikey he was “happy to” make the booking in the same way he would host any other group.
“We live in an open society where we have a freedom of speech and for a film which has been shown publicly in Queensland and Victoria to be shown in NSW I would have thought is…not an issue I have a lot of concern about,” he says. The film has been broadcast on community TV stations in both states.
O’Dea has spoken of the dangers of prescribing ADHD drugs to children in parliament and was targeted by the CCHR once Clarke withdrew his support for the film screening. “I think that is an issue that deserves debate and attention in our community,” O’Dea says.
O’Dea admits he has not seen the film. And he told Crikey, “I don’t endorse the organisation.”
Clarke, at least, should know to do his research. In 2007, he spoke at a youth human rights forum at Parliament House sponsored by the Church of Scientology. Then, too, he pleaded ignorance, apparently unaware of the link.
“I’m a practising Catholic,” he said. “There was no pushing as far as I could see of Scientology.”
Clarke hasn’t responded to calls, though Greens MP Lee Rhiannon reckons it’s another example why the Liberals should have dumped him. As Crikey reported yesterday, Clarke comfortably saw off a challenge to unseat him.
“One mistake maybe but doing this twice starts to look like a trend,” Rhiannon told Crikey. “David Clarke is either slapdash in vetting which organisations he hosts at Parliament House, or careless with the truth after being sprung sponsoring a Scientology event.”
CCHR insists it is a separate organisation from the church, despite being founded by members and devoted to exposing the claimed evils of psychiatry. The NSW branch told Crikey the film deserves an audience and all parents should see it.