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Research Guides


Collections in Perth: A Guide to Commonwealth Government Records


18. Law

The Agency

In 1941 the Deputy Crown Solicitor's Office in Perth took over functions previously managed by the Crown Solicitor's Office.

The Crown Solicitor's Office, and later the Office of Deputy Crown Solicitor, acted as the legal office of the Commonwealth in Western Australia. It prepared agreements, contracts, guarantees and other security documents, leases, mortgages and conveyances of real and personal property. The office also conducted litigation on behalf of the Commonwealth and carried out prosecutions for breaches of Commonwealth law. It provided legal advice to Commonwealth agencies and authorities on day-to-day organisational matters.

  • 1941–84: Deputy Crown Solicitor's Office, WA (CA 890)

The Records

CORRESPONDENCE FILES, LEGAL, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 'WA' PREFIX, 1944–69
Perth
Records in this series deal with the instructions of the Attorney-General or his delegates about legal opinions and advice.
Series: PP352/1
Quantity: 27 metres
Recorded by: 1944–69: Deputy Crown Solicitor's Office, WA (CA 890)
Mining leases on Commonwealth Railways property, 1946–47 PP352/1, WA2496
Treasure trove – search of Western Australian coast, 1948–50 PP352/1, WA3900
Rottnest Island – land acquisition – Army, 1948–53 PP352/1, WA3723
McRobertson Miller Airlines– Department of Civil Aviation – aircraft accident, 1949 PP352/1, WA4388
Official records – public access to archives, 1955–56 PP352/1, WA11231
Freda Armstrong – defamatory broadcast, 1963 PP352/1, WA17960
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 'WA' PREFIX, 1944–70
Perth
This series contains the operational case records of the Deputy Crown Solicitor's Office in WA. The records deal with property, contracts, prosecutions, claims, bankruptcy, debt recovery and miscellaneous matters.
Series: K531
Quantity: 1.98 metres
Recorded by: 1944–70: Deputy Crown Solicitor's Office, WA (CA 890)
NOMINAL INDEX CARDS, CORRESPONDENCE, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 'WA' PREFIX, 1944–70
Perth
This series contains index cards for K531, the department's main correspondence files series between 1944–70. The cards are held in alphabetical order by name of the person or subject to which the file refers.
Series: K773
Quantity: 2.88 metres
Recorded by: 1928: Bankruptcy Branch – Registrar in Bankruptcy, WA (CA 930)

Bankruptcy

Jurisdiction over bankruptcy matters became a Commonwealth responsibility with the passing of the Bankruptcy Act 1924. In WA, however, the function remained under the control of the State Supreme Court until 1928.

The Agency

The Bankruptcy Branch, WA comprised two sections, one led by the Registrar in Bankruptcy and the other by the Official Receiver in Bankruptcy. The first Registrar in Bankruptcy, WA was Thomas Frederick Davies, and Morrie Melville Moss, after appointment by the Governor-General in Council, became the Official Receiver in Bankruptcy, WA. The Official Receiver was required to investigate the conduct, property and transactions of bankrupts.

  • 1928–77: Bankruptcy Branch – Registrar in Bankruptcy, WA (CA 930)
  • 1928–: Bankruptcy Branch – Official Receiver, WA (CA 938)

The Records

REGISTER OF DEEDS, SEQUESTRATION ORDERS AND DISCHARGES, 1892–1928
Perth
This series consists of three registers of deeds of assignment, sequestration orders and discharges effected under the Western Australian Bankruptcy Act 1892. Each volume is alphabetically indexed by debtor name, and shows the year of action and the numerical sequence of the case.
Series: PP453/5
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1928: Bankruptcy Branch – Registrar in Bankruptcy, WA (CA 930)
REGISTER OF PETITIONS (FORM 184), 1928–56
Perth
This series contains two registers showing basic details of all bankruptcy petitions lodged.
Series: PP453/3
Quantity: 0.36 metres
Recorded by: 1928–56: Bankruptcy Branch – Registrar in Bankruptcy, WA (CA 930)
REGISTER OF BANKRUPTCY NOTICES, 1928–56
Perth
Series: PP453/3
Quantity: 0.02 metres
Recorded by: 1928–56: Bankruptcy Branch – Registrar in Bankruptcy, WA (CA 930)
INDEX OF SEQUESTRATIONS AND PROCEEDINGS UNDER PARTS XI–XII, 1928–61
Perth
Series: PP355/1
Quantity: 0.54 metres
Recorded by: 1928–61: Bankruptcy Branch – Registrar in Bankruptcy, WA (CA 930)
BANKRUPTCY FILES, PART XI (1924 ACT), ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1928–68
Perth
The series contains bankruptcy files of people dealt with under part XI of the Bankruptcy Act 1924. These files deal with schemes of arrangement and, in some instances, deeds of assignment for debtors. The files also contain certificates of resolution, affidavits, accounts, proof of debt, statements of affairs, resolutions and related correspondence.
Series: K187
Quantity: 33.48 metres
Recorded by: 1928–68: Bankruptcy Branch – Registrar in Bankruptcy, WA (CA 930)
BANKRUPTCY FILES, PART XII (1924 ACT), ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1928–68
Perth
This series contains files about people dealt with under part XII of the Bankruptcy Act 1924. The series mainly deals with the rearrangement of debtors' financial affairs and the realisation of assets for this purpose. The files contain deeds of arrangement, supporting affidavits, accounts, resolutions, court orders, proof of debt and any related correspondence.
Series: K189
Quantity: 5.94 metres
Recorded by: 1928–68: Bankruptcy Branch – Registrar in Bankruptcy, WA (CA 930)
SEQUESTRATION ORDER FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1928–
Perth
The series contains individual case files of sequestration orders for declared bankrupts (ie individuals or partnerships). The files contain petitions for sequestration orders; statements of debtors' affairs, including lists of unsecured and fully secured creditors and estate property debts; information required by the Official Receiver; and routine associated documents such as notes of public examinations of debtors, applications to the Bankruptcy Court for permission to realise on saleable assets and statements showing the financial position of an estate when declaring a dividend. All documents contained in these files are registered court documents.
Series: K31
Quantity: 33.48 metres
Recorded by: 1928–77: Bankruptcy Branch – Registrar in Bankruptcy, WA (CA 930)
CREDITORS' PETITION FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 'WP' PREFIX, 1928–
Perth
This series contains creditors' petition case files that were dismissed, withdrawn or adjourned, or had lapsed. The files were created when debtors failed to settle their debts upon presentation of bankruptcy notices, which resulted in the drawing up of creditors' petitions. The bankruptcy notice file was then top-numbered into the petition file system, with the petition file being top-numbered into a sequestration order file if the Bankruptcy Court declared the debtor bankrupt.
Series: K1231
Quantity: 11.34 metres
Recorded by: 1928–77: Bankruptcy Branch – Registrar in Bankruptcy, WA (CA 930)
ESTATES FILES OF ESTATES ADMINISTERED BY TRUSTEES APPOINTED UNDER PARTS XI OR XII OF THE BANKRUPTCY ACT, 1929–54
Perth
Files in this series deal with the administration of assigned estates by trustees appointed by creditors. The files contain correspondence between trustees and creditors, the Official Receiver and debtors. They also contain minutes of meetings of creditors. The details of dividend payments made to creditors are sometimes included, along with associated correspondence.
Series: PP37/4
Quantity: 7.2 metres
Recorded by: 1929–54: Bankruptcy Branch – Official Receiver, WA (CA 938)

Intelligence, police and security

Image 7: Musicians (internees), Rottnest Island.

Image 7: Musicians (internees), Rottnest Island.
NAA: PP14/1, 5/15/3
Enlarge image - View image gallery

The Commonwealth became responsible for intelligence, police and security matters in Western Australia when the Special Intelligence Bureau of WA was amalgamated with the Commonwealth Police Force to form the Investigation Branch, WA on 1 November 1919.

Robert Hunter Weddell, who was not a Commonwealth public servant, was appointed Inspector-in-Charge of the Investigation Branch, WA. During World War I Weddell was promoted to major and commanded the 7th Battalion at Gallipoli. He was wounded in 1916. He became the Administrator in Northern Australia (later known as the Northern Territory) in 1927 and remained in that office until 1937.

The Investigation Branch, WA was responsible for coordinating investigation staff from different Commonwealth departments and reducing Commonwealth reliance on State police forces for assistance with investigations. The branch also liaised with State departments for assistance with investigations.

The Security Service was formed as part of the Attorney-General's Department in 1941. Under the leadership of Lieutenant-Colonel E E Longfield Lloyd, Deputy Director of the Investigation Branch, the service assumed responsibility for national security activities previously performed by the Army on behalf of the three armed services. The Army, however, retained responsibility for internment and censorship matters, and for civil and internal security in the Northern Territory and the northern area of WA.

The Security Service initially had only investigative and reporting powers. The Attorney-General's Department retained the power to deal with subversion while the control of aliens remained with the commanders of the various military districts. In March 1942, the position of Director General of Security was created and given wide investigative and executive powers. It handled matters such as sabotage, industrial security, passports and the control of aliens and/or subversive groups, and it also became responsible for conducting security checks on personnel. As a result the power of the Investigation Branch, WA was limited to departmental investigations and confidential inquiries outside the security field. The Deputy Director of Security in WA was Lieutenant-Colonel HD Moseley.

The Security Service was disbanded in 1945. The Commonwealth Investigation Service (CIS) absorbed its functions and powers, although the control and registration of aliens was transferred to the Department of Immigration. The CIS continued to liaise with customs, postal, taxation and police services, and to provide personnel as requested for special investigations into industrial disputes. It also provided a translation service for Government departments and investigated newspapers and other publications in foreign languages.

In 1960 the Commonwealth Police Force took over some functions previously held by CIS. The Commonwealth Police Force (now the Australian Federal Police) is the principal agency for the enforcement of the laws passed by the Commonwealth Parliament. In the past it was responsible for protecting Commonwealth property and interests as well as buildings and establishments under Commonwealth control. The Commonwealth Police Force coordinated the activities of Commonwealth investigation and law enforcement agencies, and acted on behalf of the United Nations Organization in, for example, suppressing the traffic in women and the distribution of obscene literature.

Prime Minister Chifley was responsible for setting up the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) in 1949. Non-current records created by ASIO in WA were sent to the agency in Canberra and may be requested in accordance with the Archives Act 1983 by submitting a request through the Canberra Office of the National Archives.

The Agencies

The following agencies were responsible for intelligence, police and security matters in WA. Access to some records in series created by these agencies may be restricted because they contain sensitive personal information or identify ASIO employees.

  • 1917–19: Special Intelligence Bureau, WA (CA 911)
  • 1919–46: Investigation Branch, WA (CA 908)
  • 1941–45: Security Service, WA (CA 950)
  • 1946–60: Commonwealth Investigation Service, WA (CA 917)
  • 1949–: Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), WA (CA 1749)
  • 1960–75: Commonwealth Police Force, District Office, WA (CA 956)

The Records

The records from the series listed below are of great interest to many researchers, particularly because the majority of them are case files dealing with individuals. Loyalty to the British cause and possible subversion figure prominently in records created during World War I, while naturalisation, internment and repatriation were common issues in the 1930s and 1940s.

The records are valuable and attractive for numerous reasons. For example, some records thoroughly detail the family history of controversial, prominent or well-known individuals. At times the interest lies in the methods used to record information (eg attendance at a political meeting).

From a Western Australian perspective, noticeable gaps exist in the collection. After the creation of ASIO, the records of Western Australian 'political' entities from the 1940s were forwarded to that agency and it is likely that they were eventually sent on to Canberra. The 'non-political' component of the record generally remained with the Commonwealth Police Force in WA.

REPORTS AND PERSONAL FILES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1914–20
Perth
Records in this series contain files on individuals investigated by the Intelligence Section General Staff (ISGS) or by the WA Police Department acting on its behalf. The records include investigation reports and details about follow-up action (ie internment, arrest, repatriation or continued observation).
Series: PP14/2
Quantity: 2.34 metres
Recorded by: 1914–19: Headquarters, 5th Military District [I], Commonwealth Military Force (CMF), WA (CA 4811); 1919–20: Investigation Branch, WA (CA 908)
REGISTERS OF INTERNEES AND PRISONERS OF WAR (1914–18 AND 1939–45 WARS), 1914–45
Perth
This series consists of registers of Austrian, German (including the crews of the Kormoran and the Ramses), Italian, Chinese and Japanese internees and prisoners of war for World War I and World War II. The registers are in numerical and alphabetical order.
Series: PP246/2
Quantity: 2 metres
Recorded by: 1914–17: Headquarters, 5th Military District [I], CMF, WA (CA 4811); 1917–19: Special Intelligence Bureau, WA (CA 911); 1919–20: Investigation Branch, WA (CA 908)
INTELLIGENCE REPORTS (INTERNMENTS, REPATRIATIONS, AFFILIATIONS AND GENERAL INVESTIGATIONS), MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1915–20
Perth
Records in this series contain investigation reports made by the WA Police Force at the request of Military Intelligence, into the activities, movements and statements of aliens and organisations thought to be opposed to the Allied cause during World War I.
Series: PP14/1
Quantity: 7.77 metres
Recorded by: 1915–19: Headquarters, 5th Military District [I], CMF, WA (CA 4811); 1919–20: Investigation Branch, WA (CA 908)
SUBJECT AND NAME INDEX CARDS, INTELLIGENCE SECTION GENERAL STAFF FILES, 1915–20
Perth
This series contains index cards for reports and files held in PP14/1 and PP14/2.
Series: PP14/4
Quantity: 0.72 metres
Recorded by: 1915–19: Headquarters, 5th Military District [I], CMF, WA (CA 4811); 1919–20: Investigation Branch, WA (CA 908)
REGISTER OF ALIENS MAINTAINED UNDER WAR PRECAUTIONS (ALIENS REGISTERED) REGULATIONS 1916, 1916–20
Perth

This series consists of cards collected by police officers as alien registration officers and forwarded to Intelligence Section, General Staff, 5th Military District, WA.

Two types of card forms were used. Form A1 required aliens living in the Commonwealth to provide their full name, nationality, sex, birthplace, date of birth, current address, place of business (if any), occupation and date of entry into Australia. Form A2 was filled out by aliens entering the Commonwealth in overseas vessels. They were required to provide their full name, nationality, sex, birthplace, date of birth, name of vessel, port of embarkation, overseas address, address (if any) in the Commonwealth, occupation, and particulars of their passport (eg date, place and number of issue). Both cards contained a physical description of the alien, along with a left thumb print and a signature.

Series: PP14/3
Quantity: 31.5 metres
Recorded by: 1916–: Headquarters, 5th Military District [I], CMF, WA (CA 4811); 1919–20: Investigation Branch, WA (CA 908)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1918–59
Perth
Records in this series contain investigation and inquiry reports on applicants for naturalisation and into contraventions of Commonwealth law for, and on behalf of, other Commonwealth agencies.
Series: PP302/1
Quantity: 47.34 metres
Recorded by: 1918–19: Special Intelligence Bureau, WA (CA 911); 1919–46: Investigation Branch, WA (CA 908); 1946–59: Commonwealth Investigation Service, WA (CA 917)
ALIENS' DECLARATIONS FORM A, NO. 42, 1924–48
Perth
This series consists of personal statements and declarations made by aliens entering Australia by ship or aircraft.
Series: PP246/4
Quantity: 1.62 metres
Recorded by: 1924–46: Investigation Branch, WA (CA 908); 1946–48: Commonwealth Investigation Service, WA (CA 917)
INTERNEES AND PRISONER-OF-WAR FILES, 1939–45
Perth
This series contains dossiers for World War II internees and prisoners of war (various nationalities). The dossiers contain restriction orders, medical papers and general correspondence.
Series: PP246/3
Quantity: 0.54 metres
Recorded by: 1939–45: Investigation Branch, WA (CA 908)
INTERNEES AND PRISONERS-OF-WAR DOSSIERS (WORLD WAR II), ALPHABETICAL ORDER, 1939–45
Perth
This series contains dossiers for World War II internees and prisoners of war (various nationalities). The dossiers contain restriction orders, medical papers and general correspondence.
Series: K1171
Quantity: 4.5 metres
Recorded by: 1939–45: Investigation Branch, WA (CA 908)
FILES OF ESTABLISHMENTS GUARDED BY THE PEACE OFFICER GUARDS, 1939–49
Perth
Files in this series also show the numbers of guards employed and their duties.
Series: PT3/2
Quantity: 0.36 metres
Recorded by: 1939–46: Investigation Branch, WA (CA 908); 1946–49: Commonwealth Investigation Service, WA (CA 917)
ITALIAN PRISONERS-OF-WAR FILES, ALPHABETICAL SERIES, 1940–46
Perth
This series contains dossiers, restriction orders and correspondence about Italian prisoners-of-war.
Series: K1174
Quantity: 7.38 metres
Recorded by: 1940–46: Investigation Branch, WA (CA 908)
PERSONAL HISTORY CARDS AND ASSOCIATED DOCUMENTS OF MEMBERS OF PEACE OFFICER GUARD IN WA, 1942–50
Perth
Series: PT3/1
Quantity: 3.24 metres
Recorded by: 1942–46: Investigation Branch, WA (CA 908); 1946–50: Commonwealth Investigation Service, WA (CA 917)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1962–68
Perth
The files in this series deal with policy, decision-making and security matters. The files also contain investigation and special inquiry reports into offences or occurrences affecting Commonwealth law or policy.
Series: PP302/2
Quantity: 10.62 metres
Recorded by: 1962–68: Commonwealth Police Force, District Office, WA (CA 956)

Patents, trademarks and copyright

The Agencies

The Western Australian Sub-Office of Patents, Trade Marks and Designs provided services for the lodgement of patent, trademark and design applications, and facilities to search for, and inspect copies of, published Australian patent, trademark and design documents.

  • 1876–86: Colonial Secretary's Office, WA (CA 1256)
  • 1886–1906: Patent Office, WA (CA 1257)
  • 1907–69: Trade Marks and Designs Sub-Office, WA (CA 903)

The Records

DUPLICATE INDEXES TO INVENTIONS, PATENTS, NUMERICAL SERIES, 1876–1900
Perth
Series: K20
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1876–86: Colonial Secretary's Office, WA (CA 1256); 1886–1900: Patent Office, WA (CA 1257)
DUPLICATE NAME INDEX, PATENTS, NUMERICAL SERIES, 1876–1900
Perth
Series: K21
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1876–86: Colonial Secretary's Office, WA (CA 1256); 1886–1900: Patent Office, WA (CA 1257)
DUPLICATE REGISTERS OF PATENTS (WITH NAME INDEX TO 1897), 1876–1911
Perth
Series: K15
Quantity: 0.54 metres
Recorded by: 1876–86: Colonial Secretary's Office, WA (CA 1256); 1886–1906: Patent Office, WA (CA 1257); 1907–11: Trade Marks and Designs Sub-Office, WA (CA 903)
DUPLICATE REGISTERS OF TRADEMARKS, NUMERICAL SERIES, 1885–1906
Perth
Series: K16
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1885–86: Colonial Secretary's Office, WA (CA 1256); 1886–1906: Patent Office, WA (CA 1257)
DUPLICATE INDEX TO TRADEMARKS BY COMMODITY CLASSIFICATION, NUMERICAL SERIES, 1885–1906
Perth
Series: K14
Quantity: 0.72 metres
Recorded by: 1885–86: Colonial Secretary's Office, WA (CA 1256); 1886–1906: Patent Office, WA (CA 1257)
TRADEMARK NAMES INDEX, NUMERICAL SERIES, 1886–1901
Perth
Series: K22
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1886–1901: Patent Office, WA (CA 1257)
REGISTER OF DESIGNS, NUMERICAL SERIES, 1891–1906
Perth
Series: K19
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1891–1906: Patent Office, WA (CA 1257)
REGISTER OF COPYRIGHTS, 1891–1907
Perth
Series: K17
Quantity: 0.67 metres
Recorded by: 1891–1906: Patent Office, WA (CA 1257); 1907: Trade Marks and Designs Sub-Office, WA (CA 903)
CLASSIFIED SPECIFICATIONS OF INVENTIONS, 1904–10
Perth
This series consists of volumes of invention specifications set out in accordance with the provisions of the Patents Act 1903.
Series: PP312/1
Quantity: 11.7 metres
Recorded by: 1904–06: Patent Office, WA (CA 1257); 1907–10: Trade Marks and Designs Sub-Office, WA (CA 903)
CLASSIFIED SPECIFICATIONS OF INVENTIONS, 1911–15
Perth
Series: PP312/2
Quantity: 7.56 metres
Recorded by: 1911–15: Trade Marks and Designs Sub-Office, WA (CA 903)

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