17 January 1978 Dismissal of Harold Salisbury

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On 17 January 1978 the Police Commissioner, Harold Salisbury, was dismissed by the South Australian Government. The Premier, Don Dunstan, stated that Mr. Salisbury had 'so misled the Government that wrong information was given to Parliament and the people. This related to 'inaccurate information as to the activities of the Special Branch' supplied to the Government. It was claimed that Special Branch held files on a large number of people not convicted of any offence. An inquiry conducted by Mr. Acting Justice White of the South Australian Supreme Court found a relationship between the Special Branch and ASIO and reported that while there were files on persons and organisations 'reasonably suspected of being potential security risks', there were also records relating to matters, persons and organisations 'having no connection whatsoever with genuine security risks'.

Controversy raged in South Australia with many people coming to the support of Salisbury who was seen as a man of integrity. However, the dismissal stood. Later a Royal Commission conducted on the case upheld the Government's view that the Commissioner had failed in his duty to be responsible to the elected government. Mr. Salisbury returned to England.

Advertiser, 18 January 1976, p. 1.

John Summers, 'The Salisbury Affair', in Dean Jaensch (ed), The Flinders History of South Australia Political History, 1986,

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