Australia in WW2

What was the Brisbane Line?

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2007-10-24 01:27:26

The " Brisbane line" was an alleged plan to abandon Northern

Australia in the event of a Japanese invasion. The allegation was

made during an election campaign in October 1942 when Edward Ward,

the Minister for Labour and National Services accused the previous

government of planning this strategy. The accusation was

unsubstantiated by Ward and firmly denied by Menzies and all

members of the previous government. Curtin's initial failure to

dismiss the allegation and General Douglas MacArthur's mention of

it at a press conference in March 1943 led to the controversy

gaining much momentum. Ward made repeated charges against the

Menzies-Fadden government throughout 1943 and backed up his

assertions by referring to a missing document. The allegations

created much public controversy and led to a Royal Commission of

Inquiry in June 1943. Mr Justice Lowe was appointed Royal

Commissioner. The terms of the commission were to focus on whether

any document concerning the so called "Brisbane Line" was missing

from the official files and if so what was the nature of this

document. The Royal Commission found the documents to be complete

and that no such plan had been official policy under the Menzies

government. While Ward's allegations were unfounded the War Cabinet

had put in place strategies prioritising defence for vital

industrial areas in time of war. The plans were well known to

members of parliament and while they were not connected to Ward's

charges they did form part of his belief in the existence of a

Brisbane Line. Ward's allegations were constructed from these ideas

as well as evacuation policies and existing plans for a scorched

earth policy.

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