Military/Police Intelligence Branch

State Records Authority of New South Wales
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During World War II the Police Subversive Organisations Branch combined with elements of the Commonwealth Police, Navy and Army to form the Military/Police Intelligence Branch to fulfil the role of a domestic security service. This involved the monitoring and control of enemy aliens, internees, prisoners of war, and suspected enemy agents plus the prevention of espionage, sabotage, sedition, and trading with the enemy.

The legislative basis for the Military/Police Intelligence Branch's actions flowed from the Commonwealth's War Emergency Legislation. Under the National Security (Subversive Associations) Regulations the Federal Attorney General could declare unlawful any body which was judged to be "prejudicial to the defence of the Commonwealth or the efficient prosecution of the war." The regulations covered the printing, publication, and distribution of any documents advocating any unpatriotic doctrines, or for two or more people to meet together anywhere to advocate these doctrines or plan actions against the Allied war effort. (1)

The Military/Police Intelligence Branch initially targeted the Communist Party of Australia as the Menzies Government had outlawed it on 30 June 1940 as a result of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. However, after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 the ban on the Communist Party of Australia was lifted. "Communists were placed on government commissions, and the Party as a whole gained reflected glory from the enormous contribution of the Soviet Union to the 'Great Patriotic War'". (2)

After Victory in Europe and Victory in the Pacific the Police/Military Intelligence Branch continued into the period of demobilisation (1946). As the military units withdrew from domestic affairs the Police Subversive Organisations Branch was reformed.

1. K.H. Bailey, 'The War Emergency Legislation of the Commonwealth', The Journal of the Institute of Public Administration, Vol, IV, No.1, March 1942, pp.17 & 19.
2. Peter Edwards with Gregory Pemberton, Crises and Commitments: The Politics and Diplomacy of Australia's Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts 1948-1965, Sydney, Allen & Unwin in association with the Australian War Memorial, 1992, p.3.

This registration has used material supplied by NSW Police Service, Corporate Archives.

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