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Queensland Police Special Branch

22 November, 2009

On the 24th November 1989, the Queensland Police Special Branch files were shredded and on the 7th December the Special Branch was disbanded.

I can’t say too much at this point, but we are hoping to feature a guest contributor to share their insight on this significant event.

Update. Mark Finnane writes:

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.

The rest of the article can be read here.

Update. Have received guest contribution and it will be posted soon.

The post is now up so read it here.

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