Scientology's grand Melbourne opening

Sunday Herald Sun/January 31, 2011

Security was tight as hundreds of Scientologists and their guests gathered to open the controversial church's new headquarters in Ascot Vale, Melbourne, on Saturday.

All afternoon, a procession of well-dressed church members could be seen making their way to the Mt Alexander Rd site, which was guarded by about 20 security guards.

High-profile Scientologist Kate Ceberano arrived about 4.30pm.

The massive compound, which was bought from the Catholic Church for $7 million in 2005, has been renovated at an estimated cost of $20 million and includes a large chapel, a public auditorium, course rooms and a multimedia public information centre.

Guests - including Melbourne's Lord Mayor Robert Doyle - arriving for the opening were greeted by a small number of protesters wearing masks and chanting anti-Scientology slogans.

"I am here because my friend Kate Ceberano invited me to be here, and people should take nothing more from it than that," Mr Doyle said.

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But he was attacked by independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon.

"He is the Lord Mayor of Melbourne and indirectly he is lending his support to this organisation," he said.

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