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Research Guides

Commonwealth Government Records about South Australia


The organisation of security intelligence in Australia was placed on a more formal footing after the outbreak of war with Germany in 1914, and with the perceived threat posed by agent provocateurs, fifth columnists and saboteurs within Australia.

In 1915, the British Government arranged for the establishment of a Commonwealth branch of the Imperial Counter Espionage Bureau in Australia. This branch, known as the Australian Special Intelligence Bureau, was established in January 1916. The bureau maintained a close relationship with state police forces, and later with the Commonwealth Police Force. The Commonwealth Police Force was created in 1917 to conduct investigations independent of state police forces. In 1919, the Commonwealth Police and Special Intelligence Bureau merged to form the Investigation Branch within the Attorney-General's Department.

The Investigation Branch was established to coordinate the investigation of staff of Commonwealth departments, reduce Commonwealth reliance on state police forces, and channel communications with state departments regarding assistance with investigations. It was to make inquiries regarding passports, aliens (non-citizens), and 'undesirable' immigrants, and conduct other investigations in connection with the administration of Commonwealth laws.

In 1925 the Peace Officer Guard was created, with the function of guarding Commonwealth establishments such as munitions factories, offices and wharves.

The Commonwealth Security Service was established in 1941 and assumed the duties of the Investigation Branch in 1942, including internal security, industry cooperation with the armed forces, intelligence services, immigration and passport investigations.

The Security Service was disbanded at the end of 1945, its activities and records absorbed by a security section created within the Investigation Branch, with the control and registration of aliens passing to the Department of Immigration. In 1946 the Commonwealth Investigation Branch was abolished and replaced by the Commonwealth Investigation Service. The Investigation Branch, South Australia became the Investigation Service, South Australia until the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), South Australia was created in 1949.

The Commonwealth Investigation Service was replaced by the Commonwealth Police Force in 1960, which in turn became the Australian Federal Police.

Records held by the Archives created by these agencies include investigation case files, correspondence and nominal indexes of subjects under investigation.

Selected series relating to security and intelligence in South Australia
Recorded by: Investigation Branch, South Australia/Commonwealth Investigation Service, South Australia
Investigation case files, 1917–69 D1915
Investigation case files, 1938–60 D1918
Investigation case files, 1942–46 D1919
Correspondence files (aliens), 1917–25 D1921
Correspondence records (confidential), 1929–41 AP501/2
Personal files, 1920– D412
Nominal index cards to investigation case files, 1920–60 D1902
Recorded by: Selected series relating to security and intelligence in South Australia
Correspondence files, 1959– D995
Recorded by: Security Service, South Australia
Censor's return of mails treated and of interest, 1942–45 D2287
Recorded by: Headquarters, Central Command, South Australia, Australian Military Forces
Correspondence files, 1964–73 D497
Recorded by: Commonwealth Police Force [II], District Office, South Australia and Northern Territory
Criminal case files, 'SA', 1966– D4735
Selected series that contain records relating to security and intelligence in South Australia
Recorded by: Australian Security Intelligence Organization, Central Office
Personal and subject files, 1919–46 A402
Personal files, 1949– A6119
Canberra, Sydney
Recorded by: Australian Security Intelligence Organization, Central Office
Subject files, 1949– A6122
Film and sound recordings, 1949– A8703
Recorded by: Australian Security Intelligence Organization, Central Office
Miscellaneous security files inherited by the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, 1916– A6335
Selected items relating to security and intelligence in South Australia
Loxton Royal Commission on Germanism, 1914–18 D1915, SA22156
Censor's staff in South Australia, 1919 D1915, SA163
Giuseppe Amerio – re appointment as Italian Consul, Adelaide, 1928–44 D1919, SS378
Photographs of special interest – Port Pirie fascio, 1928–40 AP501/2, 314
Barris, Kriakakis Kyriakos – report on political activities, employment by Security Service, evidence before Royal Commission on Espionage, 1931–54 D1918, S3027
Security file – Paul Pichtmeyer, 1943–44 D1915, SA20001
David Francis Davies, absconding debtor to TAA, 1953–56 D1915, SA26416


Chapter 17
Security and intelligence