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At the start of the war many Italian sugar-cane cutters and shearers working in Queensland with pro-Axis sentiments were interned. However there were many others who were still free. In February 1942 the Australian Government believed that some of these Italians were responsible for assisting the Japanese with espionage activities such as the use of secret fifth-column radio transmitters.

The North Queensland Returned Soldier's League called for the immediate internment of all Italians. In addition they demanded the immediate death penalty for anyone caught participating in espionage activities. Many of their requests were met and on 13 February 1942 the State and Federal Governments apprehended large numbers of suspects, mainly from the Ingham and Innisfail areas of north Queensland.

Over 2,000 aliens were questioned about their allegiances and sympathies with pro-Axis and pacifist organisations.

The Minister for the Army, F.M. Forde commented that:-

"... the Japanese are obtaining vital information on Australia's security. Hundreds of letters are being received from all parts of the Commonwealth from people who believe that they could assist in tracking down sources of leakages. All suggestions will be carefully examined by military intelligence officers."


Prisoner of War and Internment Camps
in Australia during WW2


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This page first produced 16 April 2002

This page last updated 02 September 2018