Long gone, but not forgotten

IN 1989 I was party to a writ sought by a number of historians to prevent the destruction of Special Branch records. The writ was provoked by the decision of the Queensland police, with the agreed and required authority of the State Archivist, to destroy the files that had been maintained by the state's Police Special Branch. The writ faded away in circumstances that are lost to me. But the incident holds a retrospective fascination. It points to the strangely ambivalent status of the Special Branch in the history of the 1950s to the 1980s, during which the threats of a political police in Australia were more imagined than realised.

As historians, we thought it important that this controversial part of the state's history should be preserved. Over the years, some of us had found the records of earlier intelligence agencies and political policing invaluable – to illuminate the conflicted histories of Australia in wartime, for example. At least one of us was party to another legal action, joining with other activists in seeking access to their files. The Special Branch was the target of our contempt - but, in a perverted way, an object of desire, the visible demonstration on the streets of Brisbane of an oppressive and secretive state that had finally tumbled into a vortex of its own making.

Looking through the now-archived files of Brisbane's radicals of those days, one finds the symptoms of this desire, the avowed thrill of confrontation. Raymond Evans, historian of Queensland's and Brisbane's radical past, has recognised it in diaries he kept of his earliest days of street demonstrations. Of this day in April 1962 at Anzac Square for example, he wrote: 'Found myself mixed up in a Student Action demonstration about Willie Wong's deportation - really clashed with police - very exciting. Saw myself on TV tonight. Got biffed by burly cop.'[i] I find among the papers of Carole Ferrier, one of my co-litigants of 1989, the fragments of furious sectarian debate over whether or not a campaign should be waged by the Coalition for Democratic Rights against a Special Branch man who has been studying at Queensland University. In the roneoed pages of Heresy (Vol. 1, No. 10, 1985), one of the endless stream of radical journals and pamphlets of those years, a leading Brisbane activist questions the wisdom of this campaign, which is little supported by staff and students. Self-criticism proceeds: 'Our leaflet, for example, talked about the dangers of Special Branch and then went on to say that their files were often "muddled". One might well ask then how could they be so dangerous?' He 'understands and shares these feelings' about actions with which Lefties feel comfortable: 'Indeed nothing gives an old Leftie dinosaur like me more pleasure than getting stuck into the cops. I still get that warm inner glow when I hear the chant "Hey you coppers/you better start shakin/Today's pigs/Tomorrow's bacon".' Thrill indeed.[ii]

Twenty years on from the troubling exposure of police corruption in the course of the Fitzgerald Inquiry, I am bemused to discover that some of the Special Branch cops who had been regarded as the embodiment of the authoritarian state were enlisted to work on the police investigation teams assisting Fitzgerald. Searching the web. I find a blog attacking Queensland police which provokes an ex-Special Branch man, Barry Krosch, into an attempt at historical clarification – of his part in arrests during the South-East Queensland Electricity Board strike and dispute of 1985, just two years before it all fell apart for Joh.

Barry Krosch now lives at Kingaroy, his birthplace, and is long retired from the police. He was a Vietnam veteran before joining the Queensland police. These days he helps run the local branch of the RSL, where his father was president in an earlier decade. He also sits on the board of the local health authority, and agitates against those locals who want to spend a lot of money on a grand memorial to the late Sir Joh. At his home looking out over the dry, brown plain stretching from Kingaroy to the Bunya Mountains, this mild-mannered, slightly built and super-fit ex-policeman tells me about his days in the Special Branch. His stories are not the only reason I find myself wondering whether its reputation as the front line of state reaction during the later years of a protracted Cold War was quite as deserved as we, the products of the 1960s, had feared.


ONCE UPON A time, every state police department had its Special Branch. In 1998, The Age published an article dealing with a number of old Victorian Special Branch files which had come to its notice. The resulting controversy centred around the long-held suspicion that, in spite of the authorised destruction of the files in 1983 following the disestablishment of the Branch, copies of files had been retained by subsequent police agencies. The Ombudsman conducted an extensive review, reporting in 1999. The conclusion was not infallible – but the evidence suggested that the files which had remained in circulation during the subsequent decade and a half had been mislaid during a Freedom of Information exercise at the same time. The rumours and speculation about the survival of secret files had persisted for years – an example of what the Ombudsman suggested could be described as an 'urban myth'.[iii]

There are legacies of another kind that have helped to shape the flow of information about what Special Branches did or did not do. An important one has been the 'mosaic theory', or the theory of 'cumulative prejudice'. In the view of police agencies and government departments subject to contemporary regimes of Freedom of Information, there may be a public interest in the protection of sources of information or methods of intelligence-gathering. Disclosing some kinds of record may lead an eager inquirer into speculation about informers, whose identity should be protected, into filling in the missing pieces of a mosaic of information. In 1989, David McKnight, an historian of ASIO, sought disclosure of all records relating to the surveillance of Dr Jim Cairns many years before; he was blocked by the agency using this mosaic theory defence.[iv] Others have been more successful in challenging the mosaic theory. Shortly after the 1992 Administrative Appeals Tribunal rejection of McKnight's appeal against the Australian Archives, the Queensland Information Commissioner was sceptical. When a former target of Special Branch attention sought access to his file in 1993, the Queensland Police Service sought to wheel in the 'mosaic theory' to exempt some parts of the file. The Information Commissioner did not accept the argument, as the police had not submitted any evidence that the relevant pages would enable 'the deduction of information prejudicial to the maintenance or enforcement of a lawful method or procedure for protecting public safety'.[v]

Limited access to Australian police archives makes it difficult to excavate the history of many policing activities, but none so much as those of the famed Special Branches. The destruction of many of the files in the 1970s and 1980s limits the potential for a future comprehensive account. In Australia, we search in vain for anything like the extraordinary insights into the world of political policing that have been afforded post-1989 students of the former Soviet Union, courtesy of the defectors Oleg Gordievsky and especially Vasili Mitrokhin, or of East Germany where the history of the Stasi has become an industrial enterprise of astonishing longevity.[vi]

For the most part, Australian historians chasing down their own political police must rely on unattributed, though often well-informed, journalism, the odd bit of oral history or police memoir and the happenstance of archival location. Much has been achieved by those determined to uncover the world of intelligence policing – of 'spies and secrets' as the title of McKnight's book Australia's Spies and Their Secrets (Allen & Unwin, 1994) styles it. But this applies more to the history of ASIO than the state Special Branches.

ASIO now approaches its sixtieth birthday, reformed and re-formed over the decades but with expanding budget, personnel and powers in the new century of counter-terrorist government. The Special Branches have succumbed to the political pressure and managerial reforms of the last thirty years. Their functions continue in other guises, no doubt, but in structures with a good deal more accountability. Can we imagine in 1970 a Special Branch with a 'Charter', like that of the post-Fitzgerald Queensland Police 'Counter-Terrorist Section' with its directive: 'The CTS shall act in defence of the rights of citizens, including the rights of lawful assembly and free speech under the law.'[vii]

The bulk of written accounts of political policing in Australia have been concerned with ASIO.[viii] But it was the Special Branches which, for more than two decades after ASIO's establishment in 1949, supplied them with vast amounts of on-the-ground information that made up their files on people and organisations considered violent, subversive or merely suspect. The Special Branches were crucial to intelligence-gathering. From 1952, ASIO organised regular conferences to train the state police agencies in the context of threats to Australian safety and security.[ix] These 'in-service' courses covered tactics of security policing such as agent recruitment and management, as well as more conventional forms of intelligence-gathering. Meetings, demonstrations and other public events monitored by the Special Branches would generate reports of names, in turn attached to state police files and then copied to ASIO, which maintained its own set of personnel and organisation files. Without operational police powers or training, ASIO was especially dependent on the Special Branch for local actions against emerging threats. But the information flowed in the reverse direction. Through regional directors in each state, ASIO maintained regular contact with the relevant Special Branch. The system was wide-reaching, especially for a country with relatively minor threats to security.


HISTORICAL CONTINGENCY HAS left us with the odd jewel of police history that may otherwise have been unobtainable. In August 1971, following the conclusion of the State of Emergency declared by the Queensland government for the duration of the Springbok Rugby tour, the Cabinet decided to award police who had served on duty at this time an extra week's annual leave. Cabinet ministers considering the matter had among their papers a large file documenting the extensive police operation. The file gives us an insight into the day-to-day business of Special Branch policing during the early years of the Bjelke-Peterson government.[x]

The State of Emergency operation was extraordinarily demanding on police resources. The annual budget for such 'special operations' in 1971 was $50,000; the total supplementary cost of the three-week policing exercise protecting the Springboks was more than $150,000. The operation threatened the legitimacy of the reforming Police Commissioner, Ray Whitrod, at a time when he was attempting to move the organisation forward. In the middle of the Emergency, not only was the state threatened by a general strike organised by the Trades and Labour Council, but the Police Commissioner was himself facing the humiliation of a police union mass meeting condemning him for his independent approach to the task.

Whitrod's troubles lay with a rank and file easily roused by the self-interested agitation of some who would, in the longer term, bring not only him but themselves undone.[xi] Around him in the Commissioner's office, he had a more reliable support base. But Special Branch, for which he had held direct responsibility since it was established in the Commissioner's office, did not count in that category. Formally, the unit went back to 1948, although wartime security demands after 1939 constituted an important pre-history.[xii] On April 7, 1948, the day after a return to work following a nine-week railway strike which had prompted a State of Emergency proclamation, Police Commissioner C.J. Carroll directed the establishment within the Criminal Investigation Branch of what was at first called a Special Bureau 'to deal with subversive activities, especially Communist activities'. Within a year, this was followed by the foundation of ASIO by the Chifley Labor government. Before long, the business of the Special Bureau became that of a Special Branch within the Commissioner's office, with all communications with other agencies, local and national, passing through that office.[xiii]

Ray Whitrod was familiar with the work of intelligence-gathering – he had been one of the founding staff of ASIO and later Director of the Commonwealth Investigation Service before his appointment as Commissioner of the Commonwealth Police. The Special Branch unit he found in his Queensland Commissioner's office was small, but in the unhealthy culture of an earlier commissioner, Frank Bischof, it had grown to become a liaison point between the police and the premier – or so Whitrod recalled in his memoir published many years later. Soon after becoming commissioner, Whitrod recalls he 'spent some hours inspecting the Special Branch office and files'. He found the files to contain information 'unclassified as to validity, reliability and degree of relevance', and references characterised by anecdote and subjectivity. 'The range of people investigated,' Whitrod thought, 'seemed unjustifiably large and selection appeared to be based on the personal judgments of investigators rather than a systematic analysis of threats.'[xiv]

There were plenty of other priorities in reforming Queensland policing, and it is understandable that Whitrod chose to defer reforming the Special Branch into a unit capable of systematic analysis of threats to the state's security – especially since the officers 'were on good terms with the premier'. Regrettably, his memoir, Before I Sleep (UQP, 2001), remains silent on when or how he took up that challenge. The evidence of July 1971 suggests that he sought to deal with the problem of frequent access of the unit to the premier by interposing himself in the chain of information being relayed from the police to Bjelke-Peterson. On a number of occasions during the Emergency, Whitrod personally conveyed information on potential trouble direct to the premier.

From the beginning of the policing alert over the pending Springbok tour, the Special Branch was involved in the assessment of risk around the key potential trouble spots – the airport, the Tower Mill Hotel where the Springboks were to stay, and the sportsgrounds where they would play. On July 15, for example, a Special Branch detective inspected the Exhibition Grounds which, under the State of Emergency proclamation, had been commandeered for the Brisbane Test Match, Ballymore Oval being considered too difficult to manage in the face of large demonstrations. The inspection was thorough, testing gates, adjacent railway lines and even sheds and trees which were well known to provide illegal access to the Ekka grounds: 'The point marked "Tree" refers to a tree situated on the footpath in Brookes Street with a reasonably strong branch overhanging the outer wall of the showgrounds. This has also been used on many previous occasions to gain entry by climbing into the tree out on to the top of the wall and then climbing off the wall by the wooden frames situated inside the showgrounds against the wall.'[xv]

The risk of disruptive demonstrators was only one of the vulnerabilities assessed by the Special Branch. The extraordinary divisions opened up by the Springbok tour suggested the danger of a Trojan Horse within one of the many sites to be visited by the footballers. Chief among these in Brisbane was the Tower Mill Motel on Wickham Terrace. A day before the Springboks arrived, the Special Branch reviewed the names of all staff working in the motel's restaurant – none was found to be 'adversely recorded', the phrase that would usually trigger a new round of file updates and further inquiries.

That was not the case, of course, for the most likely troublemakers. The police operation, involving a third of the state's three thousand police, was focused on a small group of well-known activists, many based at the University of Queensland,[xvi] others associated with the remains of the Communist Party, but with some powerful connections to the unions associated with the Trades and Labour Council. The Special Branch drew its intelligence from a range of sources – including other police, journalists, occasional tip-offs from the public (including those out of sympathy with some of the more incendiary proposals of tour opponents), and of course its own sources, direct or indirect. At the University of Queensland, the well-placed Agent 'Brod' provided a running commentary on meetings being held, marches being proposed and the people leading the action. Reports would be gathered at the Makerston Street headquarters and passed on up the line through the Officer in Charge (in 1971, a detective sergeant was acting in the role) direct to Commissioner Whitrod.

The surveillance added to already well-established files on a large number of Queenslanders. Quite how many is difficult to know but the 1971 files indicate at least two personnel file systems: a 2A series (reserved for the original targets of the Special Branch, Communists) and a 2E series (other individuals). In the 2A series, which appears to be older, there were file numbers into the 9000s; in the 2E series they went into the 2000s. The mere existence of a file, however, cannot be presumed to constitute an adverse assessment – as it is clear that the premier himself was the subject of file 2E746, dating perhaps (Barry Krosch tells me) from his days in local government in Kingaroy. The file numbers are perhaps not excessive – just par for the course given the era, and knowing what we do of the extent of record-keeping in other jurisdictions. In South Australia by 1977, 'individual persons were the subject of some 28,500 index cards', while in New South Wales by 1978, 'the eighteen member Special Branch had compiled records on almost eighty thousand individuals or organisations'.[xvii]


WHITROD, WHO WAS familiar with both state and national intelligence agencies, noted retrospectively that his inspection of the files suggested the range of people watched was 'unjustifiably large'. Any system of intelligence-gathering is going to have its wastage, but coming from a commissioner of the Queensland Police, the observation is compelling. Whatever the scale of the enterprise, there were certainly no difficulties in 1971 in identifying the file numbers of key figures associated with the protest meetings and demonstrations. Letter-writing to the papers did not escape notice, with personnel file annotations appearing beside the names of correspondents of letters published in the Brisbane newspapers. From his days in the Special Branch, Barry Krosch recalls a detective sergeant being assigned 'to do the papers' every morning. A card opened on a suspect so noticed would require only another three entries before a formal file was opened.

But there is little that may be regarded as exceptional in any of this surveillance in the context of the time. The regular conferences with ASIO from the early 1950s helped to standardise the recording systems, down to the blue colour of the index cards. Within a few years, the inquiries of Mr Acting Justice James Michael White in 1978 would highlight the same practices, subjectivity and breadth of coverage in the files of the South Australian Special Branch; so too would the New South Wales Privacy Committee shortly afterwards. At one level, the practice was inconsequential with respect to its real-life impact on most of those tagged – and the extraordinary amount of energy and resources devoted to the accumulation of these databases seems out of proportion to the potential dangers. Only half of the 1,549 Queensland police reports passed to ASIO between 1982 and 1989 were deemed relevant to security and worth processing and passing on to headquarters.[xviii]

All the same, these file systems were also capable of identifying the lineage and connections of some very unlovely characters on the extremes of politics – such as the few members of the National Socialist Party of Australia who planned to make their own contribution to the success of the Springbok tour.[xix] On July 20, 1971, two Special Branch officers interviewed three members of the National Socialist Party at the West End home of two of them. The police were shown records said to be from the Ku Klux Klan in America: 'The words to these records are to say the least very provocative. A song about "Who Wants to Have a Nigger for a Neighbour" and so on.' An amplifier had been hired for use within a Holden panel van owned by one of the men: 'His wife would operate the record player in the rear of the vehicle and another Party member would hold the speaker from a window.' The group (at least six were identified, all with existing Special Branch file numbers) planned other activities, both distasteful and threatening. They were 'reminded' that some of these actions would be extremely provocative and could lead to violence. And they were further 'warned that any use of chemical gas or their dogs [a Dobermann Pinscher and Alsation, both belonging to the West End householders] at any anti-apartheid demonstration would not be tolerated by the police and the person responsible would be severely dealt with.'[xx]

How far the local Nazis were dissuaded by the Special Branch warnings is not known. How many fair-dinkum Nazis were there anyway – those who were not agents helping out Special Branch or ASIO? But, given the divisions of the time, it is noteworthy that there was such limited street conflict between supporters and opponents of the tour. In this respect, it might be that the Special Branch was more disinterested than some other sections of the police, and its warning to these neo-fascist agitators successful in limiting the potential for more ugly conflict. The conflict between police and protesters in 1971 could be sheeted home less to the operations of the Special Branch than to others wearing the blue (city) or brown (country) of the Queensland police. One speculation of the time, coming from police themselves, was that many country-based police found it difficult to cope with conditions in a politically volatile Brisbane.

Complaints of police violence were less evident in 1971 than in the later years of the Joh regime. But there were some incidents which attracted wider notice. A police prosecutor was disarmingly honest when he admitted that police had assaulted the man they were prosecuting on a charge of 'assault police', and that he had sustained facial injuries: the magistrate found the man not guilty.[xxi] In Toowoomba, police failed to intervene while observing a Rugby Union fan bash a visiting Brisbane protester, an incident witnessed by the journalist Stewart Harris and given national and international publicity through Harris's writing for The Times of London.[xxii] Then, as later, there was much turning of blind eyes – and the efforts of senior police close to Whitrod to control such behaviour were undermined by a culture closing ranks. One officer reporting back up the line was reassured by the comments of a police roundsman (scarcely a neutral observer) on the good conduct of police. A rare admission to the possibility that some violence had occurred was found in the report coming from the superintendent overseeing the protection of the Tower Mill Motel on the evening of July 22, 1971, the scene of most controversy. According to Superintendent Barnett, the demonstrators facing the motel had 'taunted and provoked the men facing them'. On inquiry, 'I have since discovered that these men were from the North and had previously had no conditioning to this type of conduct on the part of teenagers and perhaps some scores were evened in the park.'[xxiii] Whitrod passed the report on to one of his closest aides, Superintendent Norm Gulbransen, who subsequently reported publicly that there was no evidence of violence. Gulbransen was a well-regarded officer who served out his time in the sorry years of the Lewis regime but won commendation both in Fitzgerald's report and in Whitrod's memoirs. He was not a careless or indifferent investigator – and his inquiries on this occasion took him to Trades Hall, to the local hospital and to a young student who allegedly had been bashed and injured in the mêlée on July 22: Peter Beattie, then eighteen years old.[xxiv]

On the day of the Springbok Test Match at the Exhibition Grounds, two by-elections resulted in healthy endorsements of the government's tough stand over the tour. Elected to the safe, and now safer, inner-Brisbane seat of Merthyr was Don Lane, a long-serving detective formerly of the Special Branch. Lane was with the Branch from 1967, years of increasing confrontation with the new sources of subversion and disorder. His memoir, Trial and Error (Booralong, 1993), includes a rare Australian account of Special Branch policing from the inside. They are predictably defensive in relation to allegations he faced of assault and heavy-handed policing. Lane's account is honest enough, however, to identify the lack of preparation of Australian police for handling large-scale civil protest not connected to industrial disputes – not until 1969, he recalls, did the Queensland police have 'a set of heavy bolt cutters with which to free the chains used to lock protestors to buildings'. When they were obtained, they were carried around in the boot of a Special Branch car. In Lane's memory, the police had to learn new tactics in responding to demonstrations, since their 'immediate reaction ... was to handle demonstrators in the way they would handle criminals'. And he was scathing about the pre-Whitrod 1970 memorandum on 'subversives' that directed the police to classify suspects on a hierarchy of values down to '"a person suspected" by police of possessing certain opinions and views'. 'I thought this categorising of people in this way was stupid,' recalled Lane, '... it was not arrived at by any clearly defined basis and has no legal merit'.[xxv]

Whitrod was committed to an even-handed and least confrontational approach. Such an approach protects police as well as the public. But it also requires political support. Conditions in Queensland were increasingly unfavourable to such innovation. In 1971, Joh was still relatively green as premier, only three years into his long term of office. He was well briefed by Whitrod during the Springbok tour, and his commissioner served him loyally during a month when things might have got right out of hand. The payout from the politics of authoritarian populism was still uncertain – Lane was warned the night before his big by-election win in Merthyr that Joh's State of Emergency had blown his chances. Instead, he won with a strong swing and made the seat safer for Brisbane's Liberals.

Five years later, all this had changed. In his own memoir of the time, Sir Zelman Cowen, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Queensland during its most tumultuous years, remarks on how much Joh changed between 1971, when relations between the university and the government were tense, and 1976, when he found Joh implacably hostile. In 1971, Cowen was deeply troubled by the agitation of the university's radical minority, led by Dan O'Neill, and sought police help in combating what he saw as a fundamental threat to the university; however, he also upset the government when he visited hospitals in the aftermath of the Springbok tour hostilities to check on the condition of students reportedly injured. In 1976, the vice-chancellor saw the premier to protest against the publicly documented bashing of a female student demonstrator, an incident which had prompted a complaint to Commissioner Whitrod. When Whitrod ordered an inquiry into the violence, he was overruled by Joh. Whitrod resigned. Cowen now saw in Joh 'an authoritarian element', a disposition quite different from that in 1971.[xxvi] That transformation in the political climate helps explain the increasingly fractious public relations with the Special Branch, as with other elements of the Queensland Police, in the decade following Whitrod's departure.


TODAY, THE SPECIAL branch is a rapidly receding memory. For a number of years, Barry Krosch has been gathering materials for a history of the unit where he served for seventeen years before being seconded to the Fitzgerald Inquiry teams in 1987. There, he and his colleagues established the Witness Protection Division and the Surveillance Division, later incorporated in the post-Fitzgerald Criminal Justice Commission.

Krosch is one of those who have seen it all, a policeman who carried out lawful directions to compile information on a Liberal politician disliked by the Nationals; who undertook arrest by negotiation with a street-demonstrating Labor Senator who preferred his lighter hand in such operations. He was the one who faced a campaign by some Queensland university staff and students to drum him off the campus after he enrolled in a postgraduate degree in 1985. In the words of that critic in Heresy, 'the bottom really fell out of the campaign when it emerged that Krosch had been on campus for seven years. This was no mole suddenly revealed by a brilliant piece of leftie sleuthing. He had been on the campus before being in the Special Branch.' [xxvii]

Barry Krosch thinks there's now little interest in this part of Queensland's history. I think he's wrong, and hope he will write and publish. This is a story that seems well past, well got rid of, but not best forgotten.


[i] ADDIN EN.CITE Evans20072563256317Evans, Raymond From Deserts the Marchers Come: Confessions of a Peripatetic HistorianQueensland Review Queensland Review 11-20141policeQueenslandradicals2007Evans, R. (2007). 'From deserts the marchers come: Confessions of a peripatetic historian', Queensland Review, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 11-20.

[ii] Carole Ferrier Papers, Box 5, Folder 1 (Fryer Library, University of Queensland).

[iii] Victoria Ombudsman (B.W. Perry (1999). Allegations Raised Concerning the Activities of the Operations Intelligence Unit and Other Related Issues: Second Interim Report of the Ombudsman, November 1998. Government Printer, Melbourne.

[iv] Re David McKnight and Australian Archives [1992] AATA 225; (1992) 28 ALD 95 (28 July 1992),

[v] O'Reilly and Queensland Police Service [1996] QICmr 20; (1996) 3 QAR 402 (18 November 1996),'Reilly%20and%20Information.

[vi] Andrew, C.M. and Gordievsky, O. (1990). KGB: The Inside Story of Its Foreign Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev, Sceptre, London; Andrew, C.M. and Mitrokhin, V. (2000). The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West. Penguin, London; Funder, A. (2003). Stasiland, Text Publishing, Melbourne; Garton Ash, T. (1997). The File: A Personal History, Flamingo, London; Lewis, A. (2003). 'Reading and writing the Stasi file: On the uses and abuses of the file as (auto)biography', German Life and Letters, vol. 56, no. 4, pp. 377-97.

[vii] Ferrier and Queensland Police Service [1996] QICmr 16; (1996) 3 QAR 350 (19 August 1996),

[viii] See principally Ball, D. and Horner, D.M. (1998). Breaking the Codes: Australia's KGB Network 1944-1950, Allen & Unwin, Sydney; Cain, F. (1983). The Origins of Political Surveillance in Australia, Angus & Robertson, Sydney; Cain, F. (1994). The Australian Security Intelligence Organization: An Unofficial History, Spectrum, Melbourne; Hall, R. (1978). The Secret State: Australia's Spy Industry, Cassell, Sydney; McKnight, D. (1994). Australia's Spies and Their Secrets, Allen & Unwin, Sydney.

[ix] See, for example, 'Conference of Senior State Special Branch Officers Under the Auspices of ASIO to be held in Melbourne 4th-6th February, 1952', National Archives of Australia (NAA) A6122 (2004/00095196), p. 2162. A Queensland report on the first conference is reprinted as an appendix to the autobiography of one-time Special Branch officer Don Lane: Lane, D. (1993). Trial and Error, Boolarong, Brisbane, pp. 294-99.

[x] 'Additional leave for police for duty performed during visit of South African footballers', Queensland State Archives, Series 6232 Item 958845, (71/7049) (hereafter 'QSA file'). Raymond Evans has given us the best account from the point of view of the Brisbane opponents and protestors: see 'Springbok tour confrontation'

[xi] Apart from the report of the Fitzgerald Inquiry (1989), see also Bolen, J. (1997). Reform in Policing: Lessons from the Whitrod Era, Hawkins Press, Sydney; Whitrod, R. W. (2001). Before I Sleep: Memoirs of a Modern Police Commissioner, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane.

[xii] Saunders, K. (1992). War on the Homefront: State Intervention in Queensland 1938-1948, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane.

[xiii] Lane, Trial and Error, pp. 294-96; Cribb, M. (1973). State in emergency: The Queensland Railway Strike of 1948', in J. Iremonger, J. Merritt and G. Osborne (eds), Strikes: Studies in Twentieth Century Australian Social History, Angus & Robertson in association with the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Sydney, p. 270.

[xiv] Whitrod, Before I Sleep, p. 174.

[xv] Special Branch to Commissioner, 16 July 1971, QSA file.

[xvi] The context of the radical movements at the university is discussed in Evans, Ferrier et al. Radical Brisbane; Prentice, J. (2007). 'Remembering the Brisbane protests 1965-72: The Civil Liberties Movement', Queensland Review, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 25-37; Thomis, M. I. (1985). A Place of Light & Learning: The University of Queensland's First Seventy-Five Years, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane. The temper of the times is vividly captured in the Dan O'Neill Papers, Fryer Library, University of Queensland.

[xvii] Grabowsky, P. (1989). 'Political surveillance and the South Australian police', in P. Grabowsky, Wayward Governance: Illegality and Its Control in the Public Sector, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra, pp. 113-28; Fox, R. (1979). 'The Salisbury affair: Special Branches, security and subversion', Monash University Law Review, vol. 5, p. 260.

[xviii] In 1990 the Commonwealth's Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security inquired into allegations (which he found unsubstantiated) that a large number of Queensland Special Branch files had been passed on to ASIO rather than being destroyed as claimed. See Australian Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Annual Report, 1989-90,

[xix] See National Socialist Party file references in QSA file.

[xx] Special Branch to Commissioner of Police, 22 July 1971.

[xxi] Courier-Mail, October 26, 1971, press cutting with file annotations, QSA file.

[xxii] The incident was a central motif in the book subsequently written by Harris: Harris, S. (1972). Political Football: The Springbok Tour of Australia, 1971, Gold Star, Melbourne.

[xxiii] Barnett (Supt of Traffic) to Commissioner of Police, 23 July 1971, QSA file.

[xxiv] Gulbransen diaries [privately held].

[xxv] Lane, Trial and Error, pp. 59, 57, 47. For another insider 'oral history' account of the long-serving head of the New South Wales Special Branch, Fred Longbottom, see Moore, A. (1992). '"A secret policeman's lot": The working life of Fred Longbottom of the New South Wales Police Special Branch', in J. Shields (ed.), All our Labours: Oral Histories of Working Life in Twentieth-century Sydney, UNSW Press, Sydney.

[xxvi] Cowen, Z. (2006). A Public Life: The Memoirs of Sir Zelman Cowen, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.

[xxvii] See Ferrier Papers, n. 2 above.

Get the latest essay, memoir, reportage, fiction, poetry and more.

Subscribe to Griffith Review or purchase single editions here.

Griffith Review