Senator Nick Xenophon is the Ralph Nader of Australian politics. He was elected to the Australian senate on the No Pokies Party ticket after a successful career in the South Australian state senate, on a platform of “no gambling, more consumer protection, ratify Kyoto, and more workers’ rights”. Since his election in ’07, he’s been mostly notable for helping the Government pass the stimulus package (after extracting a few hundred million dollars for the Murray Darling basin), and for whinging about Woolworths and pokies and some rubbish like that.
But yesterday he made a name for himself by lobbing an enormous bomb in the Senate chamber – he used parliamentary privilege to launch an scathing attack on the goons behind the Church of Scientology. Here’s the full text of his speech, and this is the nut graf:
I also believe the activities of this organisation should be scrutinised by parliament because Australian taxpayers are, in effect, supporting Scientology through its tax-exempt status. I say to all Australians: as you fill in your tax return next July or August, ask yourself how you feel knowing that you are paying tax and yet this criminal organisation is not. Do you want Australian tax exemptions to be supporting an organisation that coerces its followers into having abortions? Do you want to be supporting an organisation that defrauds, that blackmails, that falsely imprisons? – because, on the balance of evidence provided by victims of Scientology, you probably are.
He’s got a point here, as well:
In the past Scientology has claimed that those who question their organisation are attacking the group’s religious freedom. It is twisted logic, to say the least. Religious freedom did not mean the Catholic or Anglican Churches were not held accountable for crimes and abuses committed by their priests, nuns and officials – albeit belatedly.
And the news gets better. Prime Minister Kruddy is (cautiously) backing Xenophon:
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has “concerns” about the Church of Scientology and intends to examine documents tabled in the Senate last night. Mr Rudd said today he was aware of independent Senator Nick Xenophon’s call for a Senate inquiry into Scientology.
“These are grave allegations which he is making,” Mr Rudd said in Bungendore. “Many people in Australia have real concerns about Scientology. I share some of those concerns.
“But let us proceed carefully, and look carefully at the material which he has provided, before we make a decision on further parliamentary action.”
Oh, and, yeah, South Park already did it.