Jul 22, 2024 Last Updated 2:08 AM, Jun 8, 2024

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Persons entering & leaving Communist Party HQ, 40 Market St. Sydney length 6'42"

Category: ASIO Surveillance Films




Over the years, ASIO regularly noted details of all people entering and leaving the Communist Party Headquarters. Except during National Congresses or important Party meetings they didn't shoot movie film but simply took still photographs and made written notes. This film, shot in the early 1960s focuses on the front door of the party HQ at 40 Market St. which is on the north side of the street between York & Clarence Sts. in Sydney. The building is now the site of a skyscraper.

ASIO would have gone through this footage in detail trying to build connections between those coming and going. At 1'07" Wilton (Bill) Brown, father of Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon can be seen leaving the building and at 2'06" her mother Freda leaves. Most interestingly at 3'44" Walter Seddon Clayton (aka Klod) leaves. Clayton was the head of a spy ring supplying information to the Soviet Embassy during the late 1940s and early 50s. ASIO had been established to destroy this group which they did, but failed to get Clayton to admit his role. The first confirmation of his role can be heard at the end of episode 4 (Frank Hardy) in our series Persons Of Interest where he tells Communist Party Secretary Laurie Aarons of his involvement.

Whilst the film has no security value now it's a fascinating insight into the city life of Sydney in the early 1960s. Double decker buses still plied the streets and workers still wearing dust coats and bow ties, a couple of young men in snappy suits and thin ties heralding the coming of the 1960s social changes which swept the Western World.