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Memento : Issue 29
After Federation, many Chinese men attempted to bring their wives and children from China to Australia. In 1912 Sam Yin, a Brisbane businessman and naturalised British subject, submitted this photograph of his wife and son for that purpose. Our latest guide opens a window into our fascinating collection of Chinese records (see page 10). National Archives contacts National Reference Service Tel: 1300 886 881 Fax: 1300 886 882 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org World War I service records Email: email@example.com World War II service records Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Memento is a free publication of the National Archives of Australia. It is issued three times a year in hard copy and online. To subscribe, fax, phone or email us (see details below). Subscriptions: Tel: (02) 6212 3609 Fax: (02) 6212 3914 Email: email@example.com Editorial inquiries: Tel: (02) 6212 3923 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: Queen Victoria Terrace Parkes ACT 2600 PO Box 7425 Canberra Business Centre ACT 2610 Internet: www.naa.gov.au/publications NAA: A1, 1912/20919 2 MEMENTO News from the National Archives The National Archives is an Australian government agency. May 2005 Issue 29 ISSN 1327-4155 Vale Laurie Aarons Laurence (Laurie) Aarons passed away in February 2005 at the age of 87. His name is one remembered by many Australians. The child of political activist parents, Laurie was a long-term member of the Communist Party of Australia and served as its National Secretary between 1965 and 1976. His father, Sam, saw service with the International Brigades who fought against Franco’s Fascists in the Spanish Civil War of 1936–39. Not as well known is Laurie’s role in later life as a researcher at the National Archives of Australia. When the Archives Act 1983 came into operation in June 1984, it provided access for the very first time to Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) records. The Communist Party, and those associated with it, had been a surveillance target of ASIO throughout the Cold War period, and Laurie Aarons (with prompting from son Mark) became one of the Archives’ first researchers to seek access to ASIO records under the new Act. Laurie was, by then, in retirement and was keen to assemble a documentary record of the Communist Party of Australia that could be used to write its history. Laurie was never entirely convinced that ASIO and the Archives were releasing all of the material they could. Determined to hold the Archives Act to its promise of public access to Commonwealth records, he relentlessly sought reviews of any decisions to withhold information from public release. The Archives, Laurie and ASIO met a number of times at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal over such cases. For the Archives it proved an enormously valuable test of the strengths of the Act, and the Tribunal’s judgments helped refine the scope of some of the exemption categories. Laurie was held in very great affection by the reference staff who helped him. He was a unique researcher to the Archives because he was the subject of so many of the records he sought access to – from his World War II Army dossier to the nine ASIO volumes about him. Laurie’s access requests resulted in almost a thousand files – many of them comprising well over 100 pages – being released to the public. He blazed the trail for many later researchers and journalists wanting to access ASIO records. (above) Laurie Aarons participating in the May Day March, Sydney, 1966. The numbers handwritten in blue onto the print were used by ASIO to identify those appearing in the photograph. Laurie is number '8'. NAA: A9626, 150