Just a short 15-minute drive out of the city, where suburban bicycles meet tram cars, you’ll now find Melbourne’s new Scientology Headquarters. It’s hard to miss. The church stands on a 19th century estate, bought from the Catholic Church for $7 million in 2005 and has been renovated at an estimated cost of $20 million. Inside the massive compound, sits a large chapel, a public auditorium, course rooms and a multimedia public information centre. It’s a state of the art product.
Former planning minister Justin Madden was there for the opening: ” it’s as Melbourne as Melbourne gets,” he said. It’s drawn criticism from Victoria’s premier Ted Baillieu when he stressed, “I, like many Australians have concerns about the role Scientology has played in the past.” When Mayor Robert Doyle said “In no way was this any affirmation or support for the religion or the church,” after he attended the opening and cut the ribbon, one might suspect the new property has left an imprint of mixed emotions amongst Melburnians, after its grand opening recently.
If you happen to shun its existence, here’s the bad news: the Church of Scientology is here to stay in Melbourne.