Fiona Gruber reviews 'Fair Game: The incredible untold story of Scientology in Australia' by Steve Cannane

Fiona Gruber reviews 'Fair Game: The incredible untold story of Scientology in Australia' by Steve Cannane

Fair Game: The incredible untold story of Scientology in Australia

by Steve Cannane

ABC Books $32.99 pb, 378 pp, 9780733331329

Fiona Gruber

Fiona Gruber

Fiona Gruber is a journalist and producer with twenty years experience writing and broadcasting across the arts as a commentator,


When you join the Church of Scientology, you sign a contract for a billion years. You are then audited with the help of a machine called an ‘E Meter’, which helps uncover areas of conflict and blockages in your current life and previous ones. The goal, after undergoing an intensive and expensive course of study into the theories and practice of the Church’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, is to go ‘clear’. This state, one of utmost analytical clarity, gives one the ability to achieve goals impossible in a ‘pre-clear’ state. Each step costs thousands of dollars, but the rewards, say adherents, are worth it. Alongside the anonymous rank and file, Scientology can count many celebrities among its present or former members. These include John Travolta, Tom Cruise and (formerly) Nicole Kidman, James Packer, and Australian rugby league stars Joe Reaiche and Pat Jarvis.

So how did Hubbard, a small-time science fiction writer, end up as a man of such influence? His Californian roommate from the 1940s, newspaperman Nieson Himmel, is quoted as saying, ‘whenever [Hubbard] was talking about being hard up, he often used to say that he thought the easiest way to make money would be to start a religion’. At that point, Hubbard – depressed and dabbling in occultism – was on a veteran’s pension from the US Navy.

Read the rest of this article by purchasing a subscription to ABR Online, or subscribe to the print edition to receive access to ABR Online free of charge.

If you are a single issue subscriber you will need to upgrade your subscription to view back issues.

If you are already subscribed, click here to log in.

Published in December 2016, no. 387

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.