Not Guilty

People often criticise me for living in the 1970s.


Perhaps I do dwell on the past, but that is where I was and where I come from, the 1970s.

I learnt my politics in that time and in this place, Queensland.

Having said that, I would like to describe one aspect of what happened in the JOH era in Queensland that may assist activists in the 2000s.

It is an aspect of struggle that was not adequately covered in the 2006 Museum of Brisbane “Taking to the Streets” exhibition.

The White Lab Coat Wearers
Lawyers (like Terry O’Gorman and Wayne Goss) and law students, some of them members of the Qld Council for Civil Liberties, wore white lab coats with “Legal Observer” written on the back while attending some of the street marches that occurred in the period 1977-1979.

While the concern of these individuals was commendable — the concept of “Legal observer” did provide at least the illusion of accountability — the notion being that respectable lawyers and law students were keeping an eye out for the “bad apples” in the Queensland police force, who were prone to using excessive force against demonstrators.

That was until one of those legal observers (Terry O’Gorman) got arrested at the gates of parliament by special branch officers. These officers included Inspector Terry Flanagan and Detective Barry Krosch (see comment by Special Branch officer Barry Krosch below denying involvement in this arrest).

Standing beside Terry on that occasion as he was pulled through to the police (or parliament) side of the gate was a young woman, Maris Element.

As he was arrested by special branch, Terry grabbed the nearest arm he could. The special branch coppers tried to pull him through the nearly closed metal gate that was being shut by police to prevent protesters from getting through.

Later Maris remarked how Terry had (inadvertently) nearly broken her arm, such was the force of his grip.

In the end, the notion of “legal observer” proved to be just as illusory as the ‘bad-apple‘ copper concept itself.

It was more a matter of ‘which-side-are-you-on?

In court, some lawyers gave their time to defend some of the thousands of people who were arrested — once again, a commendable action by the individuals concerned.

A very small number of demonstrators were even acquitted, no doubt in part because of these lawyers (and sometimes in spite of them).

Most people were convicted by the magistrates who had come up through the police magistrate system that operated in Queensland in the 1960s and before.

Generally speaking, both police and magistrates shared Joh’s view of street marchers.

A different method of selecting magistrates prevails in Queensland in 2006. Nowadays, some people are acquitted of minor, quasi-criminal charges that arise out of demonstrations.

Political Activist Defence
During those years, the overwhelming burden of real political activist defence work was carried out by a representative of the Civil Liberties Co-ordinating Committee (CLCC) (later the Civil Liberties Campaign Group [CLCG]).

That person was the woman standing beside Terry O’Gorman at the gates of parliament as he was arrested after the rally and march for women’s right to choose. Her name is Maris Element. Maris was unpaid and was not a lawyer (then or now).

After people were arrested in a street march, Maris would negotiate bail with the watchouse sergeant, provide advice, arrange for a duty solicitor (if required), help defendants prepare their own defence, ring up lawyers to assist, keep records, collect bail at demonstrations, round up witnesses, report back to CLCC and CLCG meetings, record decisions in minutes, and even chair the meetings in notable emergency situations.

Maris kept a “Demo Book: Civil Liberties Defence” which contained the names and addresses of all the people arrested (in alphabetical order).

Many of these people were arrested marching out of King George Square into Albert Street, or the Valley of Death as it was then called.

The book showing arrests was on display at the “Taking to the Streets” exhibition.

In short, Maris performed a wide range of duties not performed by white-lab-coat-wearing civil libertarians.

Maris, with the help of many ordinary people, all participants not observers, did the real work of political activist defence in the struggles for democratic rights in Queensland during those years.

For example, Maris organised the publication of a manual “Not Guilty” (ISBN 0 9595424 0 X).The cover of the booklet is pictured above and pictures three people in front of the old magistrate’s court building.

Maris is the person in the middle ‘speaking no evil‘.
The person pictured as ‘hearing no evil‘ took photos of police who repeatedly arrested demonstrators. This person, Stephen Zaborowski, was mostly arrested himself. The third person on the right ‘seeing no evil‘ is me.The aim of “Not Guilty” was to provide tips to people who attended demonstrations and who may end up being arrested. This manual was written also to assist those people, who did not wish to have a lawyer represent them, to do their own case.The introduction is pictured below to give you the flavour of the manual and what it tried to achieve (double click to enhance):

When published in 1978, “Not Guilty” was dedicated to the 2,000 people who were arrested since the ban on street marches on 4th September 1977.

In those days, far more people represented themselves in court than were represented by lawyers.

The assistance of the small band of lawyers who wore white lab coats while appreciated was not indispensable.

While the white lab coat wearing lawyers and law students went on to join the elite and become magistrates, judges, government ministers, the street marchers went on with their ordinary lives, impeded from getting jobs in places like state government departments, many becoming active in their unions and community groups.

A number (like me) ended up in the commonwealth public service.

One of the white-lab-coat wearers, Wayne Goss, became premier of Queensland. His daughter, Caitlin,  is to be a Rhodes Scholar in 2009 as was his son, Ryan, in 2007.

In contrast, Maris helps run a small independent school in the northern suburbs of Brisbane.

Why does history record only the people in the white-lab-coats but does not record indispensable people like Maris?

Ian Curr
October 2006

Postscript: On 23 November 2006, Workers BushTelegraph received the following email from former Queensland special branch detective, Barry Krosch:

Your article (NOT GUILTY) re the arrest of Terry O’Gorman has come to my attention tonight.

It is incorrect. I did not arrest Mr O’Gorman that evening. I have never arrested Mr O’Gorman.

I have raised this with Mr O’Gorman tonight, just so he is aware of the article and the error.

I do not intend getting too “cut up” over your mistake, however I do urge you, in the interests of historical accuracy and your own credibility, to correct the mistake. If you undertake professional research, as I do, you will find the arresting officer was the then OIC of Special Branch – one Detective Inspector TF.

I am currently working on a history of Special Branch, and it will be published as a thesis and/or book. You will probably find it all terribly interesting. I am very lucky as I have some very rare material.

Take care

The statement above by former Special Branch detective Krosch is correct in a technical sense only. He was not formally listed as the arresting officer, but he was responsible for it (along with other police in attendance).

On the night in question, Special Branch Detective Krosch did arrest Toni Hubbard (see photo). Toni sat down in protest in the forecourt of the parliamentary annexe (nicknamed the ‘Taj Mahal’). barry-krosch-arrests-leigh-hubbard-at-pro-abortion-rally-29-april-1980-see-inset.jpg

It was his arrest of Toni Hubbard that precipitated the arrest of Terry O’Gorman by special branch and other police.

What happened?
About fifty police moved in on the demonstration to remove people from the forecourt. Detective Krosch first arrested Toni Hubbard as Toni sat on the ground. People were concerned at this arrest and moved forward. In the confusion the officer-in-charge of Special branch, Inspector Terry Flanagan, grabbed Terry O’Gorman and escorted him away with the help of another policeman. Krosch returned to talk to Flanagan after the arrests (there were three in all).

The Brisbane Courier Mail article that appeared the following day (30 April 1980) had this to say:

“When the woman was arrested, Labor MP for Chatsworth, Terry Mackenroth, asked police what was the charge. The police refused to tell him. He told them she was a ‘guest’ of his and asked for her to be freed. Mr Mackenroth claimed that he was brushed aside by police and told the woman was under arrest. Mr Mackenroth said later that the arrest was evidence that police had tried to provoke violence.”

It was then that police pushed people back to the gates of the Parliamentary annexe. As the gates were pushed shut Terry O’Gorman was arrested just inside the closing gate. In the melee caused by the police, Terry grabbed Maris Element’s arm. The Courier Mail reported that he yelled out “What’s the charge, what’s the charge?”.

As a footnote Terry Mackenroth became the police minister in the Goss government in the 1990s. I wrote to Terry Mackenroth asking for my special branch file to be released.

The reply (which I still have) received from Mackenroth was that the special branch files had been destroyed.

If you take what Krosch says at face value when he states “I am very lucky as I have some very rare material” former Police Minister Mackenroth is mistaken (about the files being destroyed).

Under the Goss Labor government some people were shown their special branch files, others were not.

Apparently former special branch officer Krosch has access to the special branch files and is intending to use that access in his forthcoming publication on the history of the Queensland special branch.

No history written by a former detective will wipe clean the lies, the distortion, and the dark role played by the special branch in the political history of Queensland.

Even old habits die hard.

Remarks by Krosch in his email like “I am very lucky as I have some very rare material” and “Take care” ring out across the years.

To the thousands who were involved in the street marches they bring back memories of thinly veiled threats so often spoken by special branch in those dark years. Words like: “we are going to get you, we are going to get you.”

What was the motivation of the special branch officers? We may never know, even with histories written by former officers.

But I do know Maris Element’s motivation:

I just did things cos I thought that was the right thing to do, not for any other particular reason.


24 thoughts on “Not Guilty

  1. Megan Yarrow says:

    Hi Ian!
    Excellent article! Thanks for letting me know. Brisbane has so many unsung heroes.
    PS By the way, I understand Wayne Goss’ son is our next Rhodes Scholar

      1. Apologies Megan.

        You were right, Goss’s son was rhodes scholar in 2007.

        Foolishly, I did not consider the possibility that both brother and sister would be named rhodes scholars in the space of 2 years.

        No doubt the selectors were forced to chose brother and sister on merit.

        Now, why should I be surprised by that?

        Those Goss’s are a such intelligent mob and out of all the tertiary students in Queenslan the two Goss siblings are part of the record breaking eight (8) Rhodes Scholars in a row who went to UQ.

        Reference: UQ Contact magazine July 2009.

  2. Sent: Wednesday, November 22, 2006 10:08 PM



    Your article (NOT GUILTY) re the arrest of Terry O’Gorman has come to my attention tonight.

    It is incorrect. I did not arrest Mr O’Gorman that evening.

    I have never arrested Mr O’Gorman.

    I have raised this with Mr O’Gorman tonight, just so he is aware of the article and the error.

    I do not intend getting too “cut up” over your mistake, however I do urge you, in the interests of historical accuracy and your own credibility, to correct the mistake.

    If you undertake professional research, as I do, you will find the arresting officer was the then OIC of Special Branch – one Detective Inspector TF.

    I am currently working on a history of Special Branch, and it will be published as a thesis and/or book. You will probably find it all terribly interesting. I am very lucky as I have some very rare material.

    Take care,

    Barry Krosch

  3. Please find my response to the claims by the former Queensland Special Branch officer, Barry Krosch, in the body of my article “Not Guilty“.
    Ian Curr
    23 November 2006

  4. John Tracey says:

    Hello Ian

    I used “Not Guilty” frequently during the Joh times and several times in the decades following – most recently before magistrate Noel Noonan!!!!

    I have a success rate in court of about 50% as a direct result of this book – mainly because the police did not do their job properly in gathering evidence

    It was not just the procedural information that is usefull in “Not Guilty” but the attitude of make the bastards do their homework if they want to convict as most cops are lazy and arrogant and often do not do their job properly

    In my case before Noonan I had a Barrister who insisted I plead guilty so I sacked him and did it myself

    He represented my partner in crime facing the same charges
    I got aquitted and my partner in crime succumbed to the barrister’s superior wisdom and got a fine and a bond

    the barrister had made a deal with the prosecutor for both of us based on guilty pleas

    He said he did not want to jeopardise his working relationship with the prosecutor and refused to represent a not guilty plea

    Lawyers work against their clients to fast track guilty pleas especially because legal aid does not pay for the time to research and run a trial

    Aboriginal legal services tell their clients to plead guilty as a matter of course

    Murri court is not accessible to not-guilty pleas so it is clearly an inducement to plead guilty

    Routine guilty pleas is the second biggest factor in the high incarceration rate of Aboriginal people

    The biggest factor is the racism of cops who know they can do anything to murris and they will be convicted if they are represented by Aboriginal legal services

    A clear example of this are the circumstances that lead to the arrest of Mulrunji
    His charges would have been thrown out of court had he lived to plead not guilty

    Barry – what are you doing with yourself these days?
    Last time I heard of you you were outed for being a spy on UQ campus

    Is your thesis a cover for still doing this as your study was in the 80’s or do you just confine your surveillance to monitoring websites these days?

  5. Barry Krosch says:

    Hi John (Tracey)

    I was never “outed” at UQ, I was always enrolled and operated openly as a tax paying student. I had great support from Students’ Union, staff and students. Fascinating few years though? I ended up going full time in 1992 (all 7s too John-how did you go?). Loved it. Shorts and thongs – no haircut for months – all that was missing was the joint? (I am a marathon runner and have never smoked – anything. Yourself?)

    I then did a Masters at UQ. I did a thesis on “Whistleblowing in Queensland” and then established the Internal Witness Support Unit (Whistleblowing) for the Queensland Police Service. Between 1987 and about 1999, I was attached to the Fitzgerald Inquiry and the CJC.

    I retired in 2002 to return to my home town of Kingaroy (John mumbles to himself “Where else would a Special Branch guy retire!!)

    I worked for EQ here, but retired (again) to concentrate on my own local political activism. Stay tuned!

    My Special Branch book is to place on the record a total account of Special Branch. If I don’t do it – noone else will. Started as a PhD thesis – but I have far too much material for that. Should be two journal articles within months. When they appear, you will be advised.

    Finally, John, I am still a part time investigator and I do it well. Working for several agencies. I don’t monitor web sites per se, but I do keep abreast of Queensland issues. I happen to think Ian Curr is doing a reasonable job.

    Watch Channel 7 at about 6.15 on Sunday night.

    I extend to you the same invitation I extended to Ian. If you wanted to have a look around Kingaroy – let me know beforehand and I would be pleased to chat with you. I will even buy you lunch. I do not dwell too much in the past – I have a lot to do for my community here – that includes many Murri – Wakka Wakka.

    Take care

    Barry Krosch

  6. On 27 October 1985 Detective Barry Krosch was quoted in a Sunday Mail article, “The Unwanted Student” by Peter Hansen. Krosch said:

    “I feel that I can speak for the Police Department and assure people the Special Branch has no files on students (at University of Queensland [sic]).”

    This is untrue. Special Branch kept files of activities of students and staff at the University of Queensland.

    “I do not go around arresting students”

    This is untrue, Det. Barry Krosch did arrest a student shown in the photo in the article above and did assist in the arrest of students. For example on 31st of March 1978 Special Branch detectives Vernardos, Ferguson, Krosch together with Det (Mrs) Reid and police information officer Ian Hatcher assisted in the arrest of 8 students on Kessells Road near Griffith University during a street march opposing the ban on street marches by the Bjelke-Petersen Government. I have attached photos of police at the demonstration and my arrest by Det Glancy on that day in the file special-branch-outside-griffith-uni-1978.pdf [See end of article above].

    On that same day, Det. Sgt Barry Cornelius O’Brien and Det. Sgt Charles Murton Butler verballed me on a charge of willful and unlawful damage to a garden hose, the property of a magistrate. I pleaded “Not Guilty”. The police version of conversations I had with police that day were rejected by a jury later that year.

    “I went to the watchouse as a favour for a civil liberties lawyer (Terry O’Gorman) who wanted to know about bail for someone (University Staff Member, Ms Carole Ferrier) who had been arrested (for protesting against the sacking of 1002 SEQEB linesman by the Bjelke-Petersen Government).”

    Krosch was quoted as saying: “She [Ms Ferrier] saw me and said ‘I know you. Your name is Krosch and you are a student at the University, aren’t you?’ I said: ‘Yes. That’s right.’ She [Ms Ferrier] said ‘You were. Your student days are finished’.

    This latter conversation with Ms Ferrier sounds like a verbal to me, something that Qld police used against demonstrators as indicated above, on this occasion it was published in the article by Peter Hansen in the Sunday Mail. Police roundsman Peter Hansen demonstrated yet again his great powers of investigative journalism by quoting uncritically Det. Krosch’s lies. You do not need to get straight 7s at Uni to know when someone is lying and Hansen never questioned his lies and feed them up to the public as truth. On 27 October 1985 I wrote to the Sunday Mail complaining about Det Krosch’e lies and Peter Hansen’s complicity in those untruths. To my knowledge my letter to the Editor was never published.

  7. Domenico Cacciola tells it all says:

    It seems that the entire Queensland Special Branch are dragging out their diaries to write their memoirs.

    Take a back seat Barry Krosch, Domenico Cacciola has decided to tell all. Surely he is not going to reveal the political corruption of the Queensland Special Branch, the lies, the verbals, the political arrests, how Special Branch stopped street marchers from getting employment with the State Government and more … in Domenico Cacciola’s book with the original title of The Second Father

    No, no, no says Cacciola. You’ve got it all wrong, I was the good guy all along. I waged a long and bitter battle with now disgraced police commissioner Terry Lewis and the infamous bagman Sergeant Jack Herbert. I hated Joh as much as the street marchers. All the arrests I did and the political repression was just a cover for the really good work I was doing all along.

    OK, so were you part of the “Joke”? Or did Lewis and Herbert set you up in the same way you set up so many anti-uranium & street march demonstrators?

    So you want to set the record straight on Terry Lewis even though you were part of the organisation that made 3,000 arrests from 1977-1979 when Lewis refused march permits in order for Joh to export the yellow cake. You made a few political arrests yourself too, didn’t you Domenico. Here is your arrest of an anti-uranium demonstrator outside Magistrates court in South Brisbane after the demonstration where 418 people were arrested for their opposition to Uranium mining and export.

    No reason to get excited, the thief, he kindly spoke,
    There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
    But you and i, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate,
    So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.
    Bob Dylan “All along the WatchTower”

    364.1323099 A view from the inside : the true story of Domenico Cacciola / Domenico Cacciola, Carmelo Cacciola and Ben Robertson.St Lucia, Qld. : University of Queensland Press, 2009.1 v.
    AN: 43767454 ISBN: 9780702237126 (pbk.) $34.95
    ANL eng ANL contributed cataloguing Cacciola, Domenico. CIP entry. Projected publication date: 200907 Cacciola, Domenico.Lewis, Terence.Herbert, Jack.Police Queensland Biography.Police corruption Queensland.Police administration Queensland.Misconduct in office Queensland.Political corruption Queensland.Queensland
    Politics and government 1976-1990. Cacciola, Carmelo.Robertson, Ben.

  8. Never forgive, never forget, never again! says:

    Here is one story that you will not read in “The Second Father” by former special branch officer, Domenico Cacciola (with the help of Carmelo Cacciola and Ben Robertson).

    In August 1977, we were down at Hamilton Number 4 wharf in Brisbane trying to stop a shipment of uranium from getting onto the docks. It was 9 pm at night. We had assembled on the railway track in a small group as the Uranium shipment approached. There would have been about 100 or so uniformed police in attendance. Someone was holding a transistor radio. The ABC National 9 o’clock news came on. They announced that we had already been cleared off the track by the Queensland police in attendance.

    The train approached. Cops charged us from the darkness. We were shoved in a heap beside the railway as the yellow cake containers went through. We were literally piled on top of one another with the coppers holding us down until the shipment was on the wharf.

    From the shadows stepped Domenico Cacciola of the Queensland Special Branch. Cacciola had been caught verballing an SP bookmaker in the Southport Betting Case and sent to the police stables in disgrace but later was promoted to the Special Branch. A short man, he crouched down beside us and began to speak to a person at the bottom of the pile: “Mr. Monza, Mr. Monza, we’re going to get ya”. He had mispronounced a common Lebanese name. Three people were arrested that night, a seaman, his wife and a printer.

    The following week, in answer to a Dorothy Dix question in parliament, a National Party minister said that the anti-uranium demonstration on Hamilton No. 4 Wharf was the work of communists and an Arab sympathiser (presumably the person Domenico had threatened the week before) .

    Soon after, Joh Bjelke Peterson announced “the day of the political street march is over”.

    Special Branch lived up to Domenico’s promise, for the next 18 months they pointed out the leaders of the street marches so that we could be arrested time after time. In the end, exhausted by repression and division, the street marches ended in defeat for the extra-parliamentary opposition to the Bjelke-Peterson regime, perhaps the longest sustained period of organised protest in Australian history.

    Of course, Aboriginal people have sustained their resistance to colonisation over a much longer period and at a far greater cost.

    My point is the special branch had done its work.

    Never forgive, never forget, never again.

  9. Domenico Cacciola — Odd Man Out? says:

    Odd Man Out is an excerpt of “The Second Father” by Domenico Caccciola published in the QWeekend of the Courier Mail on Saturday 4 July 2009.

    Domenico, I love the true crime genre but isn’t portraying yourself as Serpico overdoing it a little? Take the following passage where you take on the ‘racist’ and ‘theiving’ Sergeant first class (Jumbo) McIntosh, ‘with a reputation for violence’, after he ‘threated you with your own gun’:

    I put my gun in his gaping mouth, shoving it right down his throat so the handle was scraping against those ugly baked bean teeth. “You ever point that gun at me again and I’ll kill youl” I shouted, the sweat from my brow dripping into my eyes. l had lots of hair back then and some of it was plastered across my forehead. “You got that, you ugly prick. You f.. king understand.”

    Standing on the table, I felt for a moment like Al Pacino in Serpico, which I’d seen three times down at the old Rex picture theatre on Wickham Street in the Valley. In the film, Pacino’s character, an undercover drug squad detective, battles rampant police corruption in New York. But this was sleepv Brisbane, and suddenly it wasn’t anything like a Hollvwood movie. My stomach was knotted, my mouth dry and my legs had turned jelly. I battled a wave of nausea as the adrenalin washed through me.

    Common Domenico, it reads like one of your verbals. I think your ghost writer [Ben Robertson (UQP)] let you get a bit carried away with the cliches in that passage.

    Seriously though, supposing we accept the general thrust of your book, that you were a cleanskin in the licensing squad and never accepted bribes from Jack Herbert, how do you explain all the sleazy special branch work you did? Did you see that as just part of the job description? Did you ever have any moral pangs about arresting and reporting on people who were struggling for democratic rights?

    More importantly why were you and Senior Sergeant Alec Jeppesen cleanskins? You say Inspector Arthur Pitts was an Elliott Ness type character. I remember Pitts, he was the commander in charge of one of the big rallies, was it 22 October 1977? You know when the Qld police force arrested 418 people protesting uranium mining and export. Or was it when Constable Michael Egan resigned becasue he was fed up with the lies and corruption. Why didn’t you resign? Did you think about it? What made you decide to stay inside the whole rotten establishment? Did you think that you would have a better chance of staying alive inside than out?

  10. Online Forum with Domenico Cacciola says:

    Online Forum with Domenico Cacciola, author of “Second Father: An Insider’s Story Of Cops, Crime And Corruption” and former member of the Queensland Special Branch.

    Hello Domenico, welcome to Workers BushTelegraph, this is Ian Curr here. I am sure you remember me. Some of our readers have questions of your career in Special Branch and your book.

    WBT readers include your former colleague in Special Branch, Barry Krosch.

    My first question is did you support the racism of the National Party led by Joh Bjelke-Petersen? If not, why did you take his side against the people opposed to racism during the Springbok tour?

  11. Invitation to participate in online forum says:

    To publicist Benthyon Oldfield at Zeitgeist Media Group for UQP.

    Hello Benython,

    I am editor of Workers BushTelegraph.

    I would like to conduct an online interview with Domenico Cacciola at Online Forum with Domenico Cacciola

    Participants of this forum need only press the reply button to take part.

    Domenico may wish to peruse the article Not Guilty before taking part.

    Guidelines to the aims and conduct of discussion on Workers BushTelegraph can be found at the Aims tab at the top of the webpage.

    If Domenico wishes to participate please let me know by return email or ask him to write his reply in the form provided below.


    Ian Curr
    Ph: 07 3398 5215
    Mob: 0407 687 016
    Web: Workers BushTelegraph

  12. The Lanky Yank says:

    Dorothy Dix and the Lanky Yank

    In his book “The Second Father”, Domenico Cacciola tells a story about how he arrested an American he called ‘The Lanky Yank’. Ex-Special Branch officer, Cacciola, is referring to Stephen, an blond headed tall American who helped organise many right to march rallies and marches for Democratic Rights in Queensland. Cacciola falsely claims that Stephen assaulted him outside the magistrate’s courthouse on 24 October 1977. Quite the contrary, Cacciola assaulted the ‘Lanky Yank’. Cacciola’s assault is shown in this photo.

    On the 4th September 1977, the Premier of Queensland rose in the parliament in answer to a ‘Dorothy Dixer’ from one of his loyal backbenchers about the increasing protests on Brisbane streets at the mining and export of uranium. He made the following statement in reply:

    “The day of the political street march is over. Anybody who holds a street march, spontaneous or otherwise, will know that they are acting illegally. Don’t bother to apply for a permit you won’t get one. That’s Government policy now.”” — Johannes Bjelke Petersen, premier of Qld, 4 September 1977.”

    The first man arrested in Qld for demonstrating against the street march ban in 1977 was P B (a cleaner) who was arrested at 5.15pm on 22 Sept 1977 for disobeying a lawful direction. He was arrested by Constable Gary Hannigan, then from Sandgate CIB and the youngest ever detective and member of the Qld Special Branch. Hannigan’s dad was an Inspector of police.

    I Rl (student at QUT and later a long standing member of the International Socialists) was arrested at 5.49pm, then L B (unemployed) at 5.55pm, L M (graduate from Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education) at 6.00pm, P A (Australian Union of Students representative at University of Queensland and member of the Socialist Workers Party) at 6.58, NH (Student at Griffith University and a member of Socialist Action) at 7.03pm. The last person arrested in King George Square that night was J M (Economics student) who was arrested at 7.07pm.

    All these people except for Paul Bracken had been attending meetings at the University of Queensland of the newly formed group to fight the ban. It had been named the Civil Liberties Co-ordinating Committee or ‘CLCC’. By that last arrest, 20 people had been arrested on the King George Square steps. Another 12 were arrested later at parliament house.

    The women arrested were stripped searched in the watchouse that night in the presence of male police. Maris, a young student and member of the CLCC, organised a defence for all the arrested people in the courts and a few were acquitted. It was the beginning of arrests and court appearances which would continue unabated for 2 years – every time there was a political street march.

    The Lanky Yank
    Later that year I was arrested by a motorcycle policeman in the main street of Brisbane, Queen Street, after a small demonstration. At the moment of my arrest I was holding a video camera.

    I was carrying the camera as protection because like many others I had been arrested since the street march ban and had been charged with street march offences. I wanted to record arrests (mine or others) because of the widespread police practice of falsification of evidence.

    At that time I was not the only person filming or videotaping the demonstrations and the subsequent arrests. Other people involved were Leslie Mannison and Marion Redman who were film school graduates and casual employees of the ABC.

    Yet another person involved was Stephen who also took a large number of still photos of police.

    People from Brisbane’s Women’s House and an independent filmmaker, Bruce, also videotaped the demonstrations. The video machines at that time were heavy and bulky. You wore the tape machine over your shoulder or preferably had someone carry it while you used the video camera. It was difficult to run or to move quickly with this apparatus no matter which method you used.

    Prior to my arrest the motor cycle policeman kept telling me to move along which I did. He repeated the direction a couple of times for me to move up Queen Street. This was a time before the streets of Brisbane were converted into one giant shopping mall (so that people could be lot fed more efficiently). In those days the traffic that still ran down Queens Street was regulated under a recently amended Queensland Traffic Act (1949) that gave corrupt police commissioner Lewis the right to deny march permits.

    As I arrived outside the old Carlton Hotel, about 20 metres away from this policeman, I turned and filmed him from a distance. He was still wearing his motorcycle helmet with the visor up. My filming was all the provocation the traffic cop needed, he promptly ran up and arrested me.

    The Constable resented my videotaping him even though there was no law against it. In fact, on the evening news of that period, video and film was screened showing up to 1000 Queensland police blocking Brisbane’s streets in order to prevent street marches.

    On this occasion a large paddy wagon with one prisoner already inside had been parked nearby. As I was arrested I let the video apparatus slip to the ground and rested the camera beside it, still recording. On this occasion the police officer had failed to issue a direction as he was required under police instructions at the time to execute the arrest lawfully. He should have said:

    “I am directing to move in a southerly direction up Queen Street and if you do not do so I will arrest you and convey you to the Brisbane City Watchouse where you will be charged.”

    This failure was corroborated by the videotape that did record instead the shouts of the prisoner inside yelling:

    “Queensland Police State demand the right to demonstrate!”

    I was thrown into the paddy wagon and was welcomed into the van by a tall blonde haired, fit looking man wearing a pony tail and a scar on the left side of his face.

    Whenever asked about how he got the scar on his face this man would make up some fantastic story about how he had been slashed in a knife fight with some drug dealers in southern California. And he never answered this question the same way twice.

    The prisoner was wearing shorts and had welding burns on his legs.

    His name was Stephen (pronounced Stefan).

    Stephen chanted a bit more until the paddy wagon was driven off by a police sergeant with a bald head. I knew a little of Stephen from some of the demonstrations and meetings that I had attended since the street march ban in September 1977 only a few months earlier. Even though I did not know him very well our conversation was comradely — we were after all both street marchers opposed to Bjelke Petersen’s ban and his Government.

    It was not long before the paddy wagon had moved up Queen Street across George Street and North Quay and onto the Victoria Street Bridge.

    It was at this point that Stephen produced a large stainless steel pocket knife from his shorts pocket.

    This surprised me because I had not then or since seen anyone involved in the street marches produce such a weapon — let alone produce that weapon in a paddy wagon on the way to the watchouse immediately after being arrested on a street march offence.

    Stephen then asked me in his American accent if I wanted to bust out of the paddy wagon.

    Before I had a chance to answer he had inserted the blade of the knife in the lock on the doors at the back of the van and begun prising open the lock.

    One door sprung open, flapping in the breeze.

    We were half way across the Victoria Street bridge over the river.

    As it was midday on a Saturday in Brisbane in the 1970s there was little traffic.
    All I could see out the back was a motorcycle policeman following close behind the paddy wagon.

    The driver noticed in his rear vision mirror that the door was open and immediately slammed on his brakes. It was a large vehicle but pulled up quickly enough for Stephen and me to fall forward on the floor. We heard the thud of the police motorcycle behind running up the back of the paddy wagon.

    As the motorcycle was not travelling fast the policeman was not dislodged from his seat. He steadied the bike and took off his helmet red faced seeing that his motorcycle mudguard was bent in the collision.

    It was the same policeman who had arrested me only minutes before. He was following behind so as to formally charge me at the watchouse and to fill out the necessary documents.

    Stephen then jumped from the van and with mock concern announced his willingness to assist the policeman in distress:

    “Now, now, Officer, having trouble, I’ll just see if I can straighten that mudguard.”

    With that Stephen tried to pull the mudguard in line with the wheel to no avail. I climbed down from the van also and stood near my arresting officer. I smelt beer for the first time on his breath. When he arrested me he had his helmet on.

    The paddy wagon sergeant was quicker on the uptake than his motorcycle counterpart.

    He ran around the van and ordered both Stephen and me back inside.

    Once we were inside he jumped back in the driver’s seat and set sail for the South Brisbane Watchouse without closing the back doors. We yelled out:

    “What about the doors?”

    and with each yell he would jab his break pedal sending us flying forward.
    The City watchouse in those days stood hardly a minute away next to a small park, Manhattan Park, where Murris used to hang out.

    Today, in its place stands, a monument to Brisbane culture known as South bank with the Cultural Centre, the performing arts building, swimming pools and the Conservatorium of music. Upon our arrival the watchouse roller door was hoisted and the sergeant drove into the garage used by paddy wagons and police cars carrying prisoners.

    Barely had we climbed down from the back of the van when we were greeted by the on duty watchouse desk sergeant

    “Well, well, well, if it isn’t Stephen and Mr. Curr. And for what reason do you pay us the courtesy of a visit?”

    Stephen was charged with traffic offences and I with disobeying a lawful direction by the motorcycle cop.

    While my Bench charge sheet was being filled out I noticed Stephen surrender his stainless steel pocket knife to the genial watchouse sergeant.

    Ian Curr
    17 January 2005

  13. Qld Police — 'masters of spin' says:

    Queensland Police Service Media release
    March 12, 2010
    Issued at: 2.30pm

    Top Secret:
    A peek into Queensland’s ‘Special Branch’

    Secret operations, special surveillance and political motivations were some of the hidden aspects of the defunct Queensland Special Branch.

    Little is known of the Special Branch. It was always a top secret and politically controversial unit. It was comprised of various anti-subversive organisations.

    On December 7, 1989 it was promptly dissolved by the newly elected Labor Police Minister Mackenroth. But what was the Special Branch?

    For those outside police forces the role of intelligence and surveillance was for many decades little understood and so more frequently reviled. In recent decades much more has become known about these agencies – assisted by more liberal archives regimes and more persistent inquiries by media and academics.

    Barry Krosch is a retired Queensland Police Inspector, and a former detective in the Special Branch. He is currently studying at Griffith University’s ARC Centre for Excellence in Policing and Security. Barry will take guest through his research and knowledge in a lecture titled “Big Brothers are watching you”.

    Special branch
    Special Branch officer, Barry Krosch, arrests Toni Hubbard at a Women’s Rights protest at parliament house circa 1979 — see Not Guilty

    Professor of History Mark Finnane is a well-known historian of Australian policing. He will lead a discussion titled “Special branch: an obscure object of suspicion” that reflects on the history of mistrust and suspicion, looking at evidence relating to a policing operation of some notoriety in Queensland – the policing of the Springbok Rugby Tour in 1971.

    This two hour presentation will start at 10am on Sunday, March 28 and will be both informative and educational and is suitable for any audience.

    The Museum opens its doors to the public on the last Sunday of each month from 10am to 3pm in addition to the standard Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm opening hours. Monthly Sunday openings feature guest speakers from across the historical and crime-solving spectrums.

    PLEASE NOTE: The Police Museum will open Sunday, March 28 from 10am to 3pm, and is located on the ground floor of Police Headquarters, 200 Roma Street, Brisbane.

    Issued by Claire Hauser
    Media and Public Affairs Branch
    Phone – 07 3015 2444

  14. Historic footage of Griffith University Democratic Rights march 1978 says:

    Thousands of people were arrested in Qld in the period 1977-79 struggling to stop Uranium mining & Export and fighting for democratic rights. Students were involved in this struggle. The fight for democratic rights began on the wharves in Brisbane when Uranium was being shipped from the Hamilton No 4 wharf. Demonstrators sat on railway lines and invaded the wharf forcing the Waterside Workers Union to shut down the cranes because of safety issues. Many ships were held up. When the Fraser government released its decision to mine & export uranium there was a march from the Australian Government centre to protest the decision. Bjelke-petersen went in to the parliament the and declared the ‘day of the political street march was over’. In the ensuing 18 months over 3,000 people were arrested for street marching on a variey of issues – the longest sustained period of mass civil disobedience in Australian history.

    This film depicts one such street march. On 31st of May 1978 Special Branch detectives Vernardos, Ferguson, Krosch together with Det (Mrs) Reid and police information officer Ian Hatcher assisted in the arrest of 8 students on Kessells Road near Griffith University during a street march banned by the Bjelke-Petersen Government.

    Ian Curr


  15. Spy or Nazi? says:

    ‘Anarchist Dan’

    ” In 1975, our restless mystery man joined something called the Libertine Socialist Organisation, a Brisbane anarchist group led by Brian Laver (Rod Laver’s cousin). Still a political activist, Laver tells me Van Blarcom claimed at the time to have been a ”committed fascist” who had experienced a change of heart.

    ”I still believe Dan was telling the truth about that,” Laver says. ”He gave us an amazing amount of information and files about the fascist movement in Australia which was very useful to us. Of course, he didn’t tell us back then that he had been a Special Branch agent. We only found out about that in 2004, when he was disendorsed, and it was quite a shock.”

    from Inside the murky past of Dan Van Blarcom – political candidate, Nazi infiltrator, anarchist. by Frank Robson SMH April 1, 2012
    Dan Van Blarcom
    ‘… His Special Branch file number was 2E.648,” says Krosch, now a postgraduate student at Griffith University’s Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security. ”Everything Dan told me checked out through the ASIO files … they also contain photos of him strutting about Canberra in Nazi uniforms and he was clearly sent there on behalf of the Queensland Special Branch.”

    When I first met Van Blarcom in the mid-1970s, he was known around Brisbane as Anarchist Dan. I was a reporter on a Sunday newspaper; he was (or seemed to be) a jocular, bearded leftie who ran a printing business called Planet Press and hung about with counterculture figures of the day. Thinking back, I realise none of us really knew Gilbert Daniel Van Blarcom. We knew he had come to Brisbane from the US years earlier and, like others in our social group, he held boisterous opinions and liked to party.

    But we didn’t know he had been a police spy. And we didn’t know, until later, that police special branches in the late ’60s and early ’70s weren’t really interested in dress-up Nazis but used them as a means of disrupting and destabilising their real targets: namely, the communist and anti-war groups whose existence in those Cold War days was seen as a threat to Australia’s deeply entrenched conservative establishment.

    Read more:

  16. Dan Van Blarcom Special Branch infiltrator – a blast from the Brisbane past

    When we knew Dan, we were small campus based christian anarchist group (’77-’81) We went on to form the Brisbane Catholic Worker in ’82. In the ”77-’81 period we worked closely with the Libertarian Socialist Organisation (L.S.O. platformists, very similar to WSM in Dublin). Their offices were based at Dan’s Planet Press printing offices where we staged a lot of our network meetings.

    L.S.O. came out of a larger anarchists organisation Self Management Group that had split. Generally, when the relatively homogenous Australian student left collapsed at the end of the Vietnam War – Melbourne went Maoist, Sydney went Trot and Brisbane went anarchist. So the anarchist scene was a pretty big thang in the ’70’s in Brisbane in terms of the left

    Dan was/is a convivial character and always had good intel on other left groups (he claimed picked up at left bar b q’s). The Brisbane Left was pretty big and militant during this period…there were approx 3,000 arrests under the repressive ban on civil liberties (’77-’82) by the National Party state government (Dan just tried running as a National Party candidtae, weird shite)

    The article below is worth reading if you are interested in police infultration. The Liverpool Catholic Worker was infiltrated by “Alan Fossey” 96-99 while Campaign Against Arms Trade had 6 BAe funded spies including their full-time organiser (see Sunday Times expose). Recent scandals of male cops in deep cover carrying on sexual relations and fathering children with female English activists is a fresh story here.

    Spy or Nazi?
    Frank Robson April 1, 2012
    Read more:

  17. Police lies and videotapes damage lives says:

    Police Museum Sunday Lecture
    November 24
    10:00 – 12.30 (includes morning tea)
    The Queensland Police Special Branch
    1948 to 1989
    Editor’s Note: This not the first time Barry Krosch and his special branch mates have sought an audience in the public sphere. People were excluded from employment, relationships shattered, violent arrests were made based on information Barry supplied to his superiors. No apology was ever made to the Qld public for these crimes by the Pertersen or succeeding governments. It was a Labor government that set up the Special Branch and the tories merely refined it. If you wish to see some of the work by Special Branch, view the footage from those days above.The article below was forwarded by the Brisbane Discussion Circle which has been doing its own important historical research. The following is a press release from Queensland Police Museum:

    Special Branch was established in April 1948 and was often surrounded by controversy, but always by a veil of secrecy. That veil ensured the operations of the branch remained protected from media scrutiny and even probing in state parliament.

    During the morning of 24 November, 1989, most Police Special Branch files were shredded under Police Headquarters in Brisbane. Many Queenslanders were understandably appalled at the destruction of those records and most believed they would never get to know the undisclosed details of those documents, or ever learn of the history of the unit. That is not quite the case.

    Barry Krosch is a retired Queensland Police Inspector, and a former detective in the Special Branch. For the past four years he has been researching the branch as a MPhil researcher at Griffith University’s Centre for Excellence in Policing and Security (CEPS). The day after this presentation, he will submit his thesis ‘The Queensland Police Special Branch 1948 to 1989: History, function and impact’.

    This research was a significant exercise in document discovery at state and national archives, complemented with Barry’s ‘insider’ knowledge, and interviews with former branch members, targets and agents. He will present some of his research findings, which will include the reasons for the shredding, the background to the disbandment and explain why some branch files are now available from national archives.

    After a morning tea (kindly sponsored by CEPS), members of a panel will present brief overviews of their knowledge of the branch and attempt to reach a consensus; ‘Is it time to consign Special Branch to history and look to the future?’ The presentation will be chaired by Dr Paul Reynolds, Honorary Research Fellow at Queensland Parliament. Other panellists will include Professor Mark Finnane, Mr Terry O’Gorman, Mr Dan van Blarcom and another two surprise guests.

    This two and a half hour presentation will start at 10am on Sunday, November 24 and will be both informative and educational and is suitable for any audience.

    The Museum opens its doors to the public on the last Sunday of each month from 10am to 3pm in addition to the standard Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm opening hours. Monthly Sunday openings feature guest speakers from across the historical and crime-solving spectrums.

    PLEASE NOTE: The Police Museum will open Sunday, November 24 from 10am to 3pm, and is located on the ground floor of Police Headquarters, 200 Roma Street, Brisbane.

    Please pass this information onto your family, friends and other networks.
    We look forward to welcoming you on November 24

    Lisa Jones
    Queensland Police Museum
    Ground Floor, 200 Roma St
    GPO Box 1440, Brisbane Q 4001
    P: +61 7 3364 6425
    F: +61 7 3364 6268

    Media & Public Affairs Group | Community Contact Command

    The QPM is open 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday; 10am to 3pm on the last Sunday of the month (Feb-Nov)

    Our new discussion forum is at:
    Our online historical archive is at:

    Thnx to “Brisbane Discussion Circle” group.

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