GO Stuff

Looking at some of the work I did in the GO, it included the following. I looked after some libel actions against two or three critical publications.  So I did contribute to going after critics in my local area.   One I remember was an amateurish publication which was done on a very small budget.  I think this one fizzled out in the end without it ever getting to trial.   The other one was an action against a psychiatrist and the ABC which ran a critical program a few years before I joined up.   This was eventually settled while I was looking after legal matters in the local org.  This action was mainly coordinated from the Cont Org, although I think the papers and the main action was done in Adelaide through the C of S solicitors at the time.
Another thing I was involved in was attempting to get the Special Branch files we thought were being kept on scientologists.  We commenced a court action to try and get discovery of these files.   This was not successful.  
I also campaigned for freedom of information legislation to be passed which would have enable C of S to find and dead agent reports held on police files.   This was a part of the overall Snow White program.  FOI legislation was passed in Australia and SA party due to these efforts.   Although there was  a strong push for other quarters for this to happen. 
The FOI legislation we got was not affective in allowing access to police and intel agency files. 
Another campaign I coordinated was that against legislation to increase the powers of ASIO – Australia’s domestic intelligence agency.  Probably got myself a file as a result of this.   There was fear that these powers would be used against the C of S.  We were spun horror stories about how if the legislation was passed, the orgs would be raided and closed down.   We encouraged hundreds of people to write letters and telegrams to MPs seeking that the bill be defeated.   I think eventually the ASIO legislation did go through, and no, the orgs weren’t raided. However our campaigns caused the bills to be delayed on a couple of occasions at least I believe.  I don’t know if there were any amendments to the law as a result of our actions. 
I coordinated activities of the field and staff to get these letters and telegrams written.  I also gave talks to the field about how dangerous this legislation was and how they needed to contribute to the effort.
I ran a group which was working against proposed new legislation affecting incorporated associations.  The new legislation included provisions which allowed for a small number of members to essentially challenge the management committee of associations.  This was seen to be a considerable threat to the C of S as a few critics could become members and then overthrow management.   As there were various corporate entities registered under associations law in SA I think including fairly important international corporate entities of scientology  (as well as the C of S in Australia of course), any change to associations law could have been a big problem.  There were missions in Adelaide when the corporate sort out was being done now that I think about it, and this was around the early 80s.  There may well be scio entities still registered in SA under the associations legislation.  I have looked but cant find anything on line. Might need to check actual hard records in the Consumer Affirs Dept. The provisions allowing for challenge of management may still be there.  Might be an interesting study and a potential Achilles heel.  
My role was to run a GO volunteer who did not reveal her identity as a C of S member who was the convener of the anti-associations legislation  group.  So this was lobby group was a front for the C of S.
We would do press releases every week on some thing or other and do little media stunts which sometimes got some radio or tv time.  We attacked any psych abuse we could, and ran the various campaigns on the ASIO, FOI and Associations law.  
One famous event which got me on TV was to appear at the polling booth during the state election dressed in a trench coat and brim hat with a sandwich board placard when the leader of the opposition turned up to vote during a state election. The placard had a comment concerning the ASIO legislation like :”Follow our leads – you might find a bugging device”.   On  the other side was the statement “Make this a great police: state”  These were parodies of the political slogans of the two parties at the time: Liberal : “Make this a state great”  and Labour: “Follow our leader” .  Think that my parody was better than the cheesy slogans themselves. 
These various campaigns of course pushed open government, freedom from authoritarian abuse and human rights themes.  Things I have now come to realise are not in the core interest of the C of S in any way, but are to reduce the effectiveness of government in being able to discover and deal with abusive behaviour of cultish organizations such as the C of S and to simply allow this organization the freedom to operate under the cloak of religion without scrutiny. 
My BI – intelligence bureau work when I did this held from above really was just to ring up known critics such as psychiatrist and govt people– not exes (don’t think we had any around at the time or any who were active in their dissent) and find out what they were planning.   I adopted a pseudonym and rang them up. Mostly I posed as a uni student seeking info on cults.  This got them talking and onto the subject of scio.   Once time I got my university mixed up and was nearly sprung.  However the interviews were done over the phone, so no real danger or consequence of being found out.   Except perhaps for a bad pr scene for the church.  
I did know of a guy who was banished from org lines because he got caught staging a break-in at a government building.   I only have a vague memory of this, but he was able to infiltrate  a govt agency, and find files on scientology.  Think it was the health department.   He told me that he found many files and spent some time photocopying these.  But they were sprung and had to escape from the building.  I think they may have been apprehended by the police but managed to avoid any charges or serious consequences.   Don’t recall the guy’s name or other details. 
This happened during the 60s I believe when the church was facing being banned due to actions of health agencies.  This was around the time of the Anderson Enquiry.
When I was newly on post in the GO in late 1978 Scientology aroused the interest of the local Adelaide university newspaper On Dit.   They did an expose on scientology.  I was interviewed a couple of times.  The reporter was not impressed and did a good hatchet job.  On Dit was a free student paper and was distributed around the campus by means of stands where a group of 50 or 100 papers might be stored available for anyone to take. To stop the broader circulation of the critical story, I and Peter Bowen, who was the AG PR (Public Relations) at the time, snuck into the uni at night and stole most of the papers we could find in the various stands around the campus.   We ended up with a whole stack of these things which we had to dispose of.   Pretty paranoid activity indicating church’s aversion to criticism and the use of underhanded means to prevent free speech.  Don’t quite know how I reconciled this with campaigns to open government decision making and files to more scrutiny in the name of transparency and open government accountability and the public’s right to know.  These things obviously didn’t extend to the public’s right to know and read about scientology. 
Another incident involving theft of property related to a liability formula action where one of the GO staff stole a copy of the Mindbenders book (Cyril Vosper) from a library and destroyed it. 
I think my work in this area and the conspiratorial nature of the activities we were involved in, where there were overt and covert front groups operated even at the local org level made me think it was ok for organizations to run in this way.  After I got out and was working in other fields, I tried to organise tight conspiracies of true believers to work to achieve agreed goals, not necessarily the “will of the people”.  It is conceivable that this thinking does inculcate high levels in government institutions. So I am never wholly dismissive of conspiracy theories.   
There was an interesting situation in SA recently where the opposition leader was almost brought undone by revealing in parliament documents linking the labour premier to the C of S through Applied Scholastics.  Applied Scholastics had apparently offered to make donations to the labour party for favours in consideration of study tech etc.  These documents turned out to be forgeries.  I wonder what purpose might have been served by those forging these docs.   I also wonder if there really was some fire under that smokescreen.  There have been spurious organizations with almost cultic links approaching the state government.   I don’t think the information in the media paints and entirely true picture of the events and I wonder about the hand of the C of S in this.  
The SC (Social Coordination) bureau was there to essentially run CCHR.  (Anti psych group)  This got a lot of media.  We ran events quite often and got occasional tv.
One event which really soured my AGSC (Colin Harris) and caused him to quit was to protest about Mark Chapman as a person deranged by psyche drugs causing him to murder John Lennon. This protest was staged to coincide with John Lennon’s funeral march through the city streets.   We made up a number of banners  critical of psychiatry  and essentially subverted the John Lennon march turning it into an antipsych protest march.  People who went along had no idea it was C of S running its PR line.  Some even held banners for us. 
The media was scathing of what we did and accused C of S of “splitting the mourners”  Colin had to get up and do rant down at Rymill Park at the end of the rally  about the evils of psychiatry.  He copped stick from people who were there about having used a sincere event showing respect for Lennon as a media circus for scio.  I was very much in on the organization of this event, helping to make banners and participating in the parade.    This was done on orders from the Cont GO but we carried it off ourselves. Was a typical cynical media circus event and as so many people were there showing their respect for Lennon, it looked like a big protest march against psychiatry.   No wonder we copped a lot of stick about it.  This was the last straw for Colin who routed out shortly after this.  Think his contract was up and he was not going to continue. 
Around 82 there was a squirrel group that started up I think it may have been an branch of Mayo’s Advanced Ability Centre in Adelaide.  This was championed by Muriel Chen and her partner.  Several old timers went off to join them.  There was no coordinated actions from the GO on this.  Although I think by this stage I was out of the GO and it may have been left to the new DSA of the org to deal with this stuff.  I do remember Vicki Hannan in Adelaide on mission for a while doing some stuff.   Didn’t take too much interest in it.
I did have some involvement in the mission that was sent to Adelaide to handle the looming enquiry as a result of the botched regging and refund cycle of the girl who walked in one day shortly after her parents had died.  She was regged for the whole bridge and handed over her inheritance many 10s of thousands of dollars. 
She cooled off a few days later and came to her senses and asked for her money back.  Of course all the money was promptly spent and it took a long time for the org to reg enough new services to pay it all back.  This caused a real stink.  I remember going up to the hills where the girl and her family lived.   I remember being essentially forced off the property by a man with a shotgun.   Don’t know what we thought we might achieve by going to see her.   Probably lucky I didn’t get shot. 
The govt looked into this closely and decided to hold a select committee enquiry.  I remember accompanying one of the OSA missionaires (Kerry Elliot/Francis) to parliament to talk to one of the government leaders who was convening the committee.  He was going through the various parliamentarians who were going to be on the committee.  One was Ren Degaris.  This mp has some form with scio as a result of the previous select committee enquiry which was held in 1968.  He believed that scientologists had made death threats against him and obviously with this previous involvement would not be well disposed to be non partial in an examination of scio.  I managed to impress on the govt person that Ren Degaris should not be on the select committee for this reason and he was in fact dropped.   
The select committee was a pretty tame affair and no drastic actions resulted due to it reporting and findings.  
So that’s probably a good list of the range of things I was involved with.  It was all good standard PR tech protecting the church etc. Gross PR blunders, deceitful practices, subterfuge, running front groups, stealing papers etc etc. I can see that now that there was a culture of deceit within the GO in terms of its operations. It was almost ok to be cunning and conniving and to have ulterior motives in what one did. To present a view to the world, while operating something completely different in reality in the name of some higher goal which made it all ok.  I don’t see that these fundamentals changed at all with the closure of the GO and the formation of OSA.

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