Surrounded by mysterious and shadowy Masonic symbols in the curtained gloom of a Launceston Lodge, kilted and white-cloaked Scotsman Roy Scott yesterday firmly declared that he was keen to see the ancient order shed the image of an organisation obsessed with secrecy.
Flying straight to Launceston from Glasgow, where he heads a world Masonic order, Mr Scott pointed out that ``only 1 per cent of the business'' was now actually secret.
``Even golf clubs have their special rules just for members, after all,'' explained Mr Scott, defending an organisation traditionally associated with odd handshakes, strange uniforms and heavily guarded meetings and procedures.
Mr Scott is the grand master of the Great Priory of Scotland and international head of the Knights Templar.
Yesterday he agreed to allow The Examiner into the Masonic inner sanctum in Heather Hall, Penquite Rd _ although the line was drawn at being allowed to witness a special ceremony to install the new Tasmanian head of the historic order of Knights Templar, Ken Milbourne, of Hobart, that afternoon.
The installation followed two days of official events and ceremony involving Knights Templar from the order's headquarters in Scotland as well as from Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
Mr Scott said the Launceston lodge fell under the Scottish jurisdiction that he headed.
``It must go way back to its founding in Tasmania by Scottish settlers, and we do go way back _ my own Kilwinning Lodge, No. 4, in Glasgow, was formed in 1735, '' he said. Mr Scott is an eminent retired surgeon who lives in Glasgow and is also Scotland's deputy lieutenant, the equivalent of an Australian state governor.
Further keen to dispel any notions about the Masons, Mr Scott pointed out that the body's role was ``to help people in trouble''.
``We're a charitable organisation,'' he said. ``Apart from supporting a hospice movement, we give generously to a wide range of charities, but it annoys us when they won't support us.
``We find that quite disappointing.''
And what are the grounds of eligibility for Masons' membership? ``You must believe in a supreme being it doesn't matter what religion but that is the sole qualification,'' he said.