The Age reports that in 2011, military police seized from a Canberra bookshop a number of obsolete service training manuals dating back to the 1930s. Last Monday the booklets were returned to the shop.
The reasons given for the seizure – that the manuals were restricted documents and that there was information in them that was not for ‘certain people’ to see – seem a bit specious considering that some of the same manuals were on public sale at the Australian War Memorial during the two years the booklets were held by the MPs.
The bookshop’s owner, Simon Maddox, said that when the items were seized, “I was partially stunned and thought it was pretty humorous. I wondered why things from 1937 would affect the security of Australia now.” He is now wondering why it took so long for the MPs to decide the manuals were harmless. “Even reading slowly you’d imagine you could get through it quicker than that.”
An interesting postscript to the story occurred in January when the bookshop received a donation of another 85 similar pamphlets. “The Canberra Times reported this and, within two or three days, they were all sold. I think the the general public was trying to protect us from the military police,” Mr Maddox said.