One Year Later: Australia’s The Age Continues Its Downward Slide
When a Melbourne elementary school began to provide workable solutions to improve children’s learning abilities, Ben Schneiders and The Age intentionally tried to stop the program.
As one of Australia’s oldest newspapers, Melbourne’s The Age might be expected to have accumulated a degree of journalistic integrity in the course of its 178-year publishing history. Apparently, it has not, judging by the continued dishonesty of its “investigative reporter” Ben Schneiders who was called out more than a year ago by Freedom Media and Ethics for his bias and lack of professional reporting on the subject of Scientology.
In a May 29, 2022, article, Schneiders presents the “revelation” that a local grammar school run by a Scientologist utilizes the Study Technology developed by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard as part of its teaching program. An unnamed parent — one of two sources for the article — insisted the school was keeping this affiliation “secret.”
Yet according to Schneiders’ article, the parent discovered that information by reading the school’s website.
Glossing over that contradiction, Schneiders supports the false premise of his story by quoting a local anti-Scientologist. Any “inside information” he might have is controverted by his having no connection with the Church for 13 years.
Once again, The Age and Schneiders jettisoned the standard conventions of news reporting to forward their own biased viewpoint. Anyone with a modicum of interest in the facts could easily have found that Mr. Hubbard’s Study Technology is a tool that provides an effective solution to the problem of learning. Educators and students around the world have for decades used Mr. Hubbard’s methods to improve the quality of learning.
Australian Broadcasting System reported “there is a learning crisis in Australia.” Australia’s standard of education, once considered among the best in the world, is now considered among the worst.
But more to the point, Australia’s educational system has been failing for years. A May 22 article published by the Australian Broadcasting System reported “there is a learning crisis in Australia.” Australia’s standard of education, once considered among the best in the world, is now considered among the worst. The underlying problem is not the teachers or the students but “how to improve teaching and learning in every school.”
Mr. Hubbard’s Study Technology provides the answer to that dilemma, answers people in Australia need.
Schneiders and The Age, however, use their position to forward a hidden agenda completely opposed to helping others.
Just over a year ago, Freedom took Schneiders and The Age to task for a fatally flawed series of articles on Scientology that lacked any basis in fact or semblance of journalistic integrity. (See How Australian Journalism Fails.)
Schneiders protested when internet posters began to speculate that his obvious bias might be a symptom of his being in the pocket of special interests. Schneiders wrote “I am not a paid agent for anyone other than The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, where I have worked for the past 15 years.”
The statement would have been more honest had he included that The Age itself has been backing special interests since the early 1960s. Schneiders article was simply a continuation of a long, well-established pattern.
Billion Dollar Mental Health Boondoggle
In December 2020, plans were being formulated to convince the Australian government to provide billions in taxpayer money to fund the Australian mental health industry. In spring 2021, the Australian Department of Mental Health publicly announced a proposed AU$2.3 billion national mental health plan.
It was no surprise Scientology was targeted just as the psychiatric industry began to ramp up its lobbying efforts for massive government rake-offs. The psychiatric watchdog organization the Church established, Citizens Commission on Human Rights, have been exposing psychiatric abuses in Australia for nearly five decades.
A month prior to the media release of the planned bill, Ben Schneiders published the first in his series of false and derogatory articles denigrating the Church of Scientology.
It was no surprise Scientology was targeted just as the psychiatric industry began to ramp up its lobbying efforts for massive government rake-offs. The Church of Scientology and the psychiatric watchdog organization it established, Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), have been exposing psychiatric abuses in Australia for nearly five decades.
Two of the biggest proponents of the proposed government mental health subsidy are psychiatrists Ian Hickey and Patrick McGorry, who stand to gain in excess of $200 million as part of the proposed $2.8 billion giveaway.
Derailing the Psychiatric Gravy Train
A June 30, 2021, article on the CCHR website exposed how the Australian government earmarked $278 million in 2021-2022 to fund new clinics that would deliver McGorry’s programs targeting young people. That plan ignored the findings of an independent study that documented the program’s 77 percent failure rate.
That same month, Schneiders profiled McGorry in The Age, where McGorry criticized Scientologists for their opposition to increased government funding for failing mental health programs. McGorry bemoaned the Church’s long standing and well-known opposition to psychiatric crimes and human rights violations, complaining that Scientology is not only still influential in Australia but has gained momentum, resulting in what he considers “the serious underfunding of mental health care by governments.”
The hoped-for government sponsored gravy train had derailed. A year later Australia’s mental health funding bill was still mired in Parliament. In March 2022, ABC News wrote: “The $2.3 billion plan was first flagged in December 2020, on the back of a damning Productivity Commission review which found longstanding problems in the system including dysfunctional approaches to the funding of services and a lack of clarity between governments about their roles.”
Scientologists continued to report on abuses within the government funded mental health system. On April 4, 2022, CCHR again exposed McGorry and fellow psychiatrist Ian Hickie, who were awarded AU$3.8 million by the Australian government to study using the hallucinogen MDMA (Ecstasy) as a method of treating autistic young adults afflicted with “social anxiety.”
The market for legal psychedelic drugs was anticipated to have the potential of generating AU$9.7 billion by 2027. Australian taxpayers were priming the pumps to enrich the psychiatric industry and Scientologists were sounding the alarm bells.
On April 29, 2022, Schneiders came to the aid of psychiatric vested interests with another anti-Scientology story replete with false and long disproven allegations about the Church, recycled from a sham lawsuit filed halfway around the world in the United States.
A month later The Age published Schneiders’ feeble “expose” of a local grammar school being run by the Melbourne Scientologist.
False and Misleading Journalism
A year ago, Freedom exposed Schneiders and The Age for their lack of professionalism and integrity. Their response was to slide even further into the muck to push their hidden agenda aimed at funneling billions in government funding into mental health programs that are at best unworkable and at worst extremely dangerous and deadly.
Journalism comes into its own when it is uncovering and exposing the truth in service to the needs of the people, not when it is serving hidden vested interests that oppose us all.
The Age has yet to learn that lesson, if it ever will.
One thing is certain: Scientologists will continue to speak out against any and all forms of psychiatric human rights violation and continue to fight for the rights of Australian families and children.