Takver's Initiatives. P.O. Box 1078, Brunswick M.D.C, Victoria, 3056, Australia

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A telegram received in Sydney from Perth, West Australia, says: "It will be remembered that when the R.M.S. Ormuz arrived at Fremantle on May 16th it was rumored that anarchists were aboard the vessel, which was flying the yellow flag at the time. The anarchist craze gradually died out, but the matter was revived today by a statement in the Perth 'Daily News,' which says: 'A well known Sydney resident, who has just arrived in this State, says positively that, although three other passengers were allowed to leave the ship, three suspected anarchists were detained in Sydney Quarantine Station. He also states that it was subsequently decided to release these men on July 25. The Sydney visitor says that the three men, who were most fashionably dressed, were well treated in quarantine, but were closely watched. Further inquiries are being made.' "

An "Evening News" representative made inquiries this morning in connection with the above telegram, and it appears that something ot the kind mentioned did occur, though whether there was any real necessity to keep anybody under surveillance is reasonably open to doubt. Possibly the scare which was occasioned when it was first announced in a wire from Perth that there were some Italians on the Ormuz upon her outward voyage caused the authorities here to take every precaution, even though they did not attach very much importance to the circumstance. From what can be gathered from outside sources (officially, tbe greatest reticence is still observed), it seems that there actually were three men upon whom a watch was kept, in view of what were deemed possibilities. Those men were unsuccessfully vaccinated before the ship reached Sydney, and, with hundreds of others, were kept at North Head as contacts. They were kept there until some time last week, when they were discharged, and since then, it is stated, they had settled down peaceably to business, as was no doubt their intention all along, as they have friends here among the Italian residents of the city.

When seen with reference to the matter, Mr. Fosbery, Inspector-General of Police. returned what was apparently a diplomatic answer. Asked whether the facts as stated in the telegram were correct, he said: "No persons were detained at quarantine unless they were either patients or contacts. Nobody was specially detained for any reason whatever." To all further questions Mr Fosbery replied that he did not wish to say anything further about the matter.

The reporter, subsequently saw Dr. Ashburton Thompson, President of the-Board of Health. Dr. Thompson has but recently resumed duty after a protracted illness, which has kept him away from his office for about six weeks. He courteously offered to give any particulars of the matter within his knowledge, but added that, owing to his absence from duty in the period named, he knew very little about it.

"Were any men kept under any especial observation, doctor?" he was asked.

"No," was the reply; "not at all. I believe there were some men whom the police wished to keep an eye upon, for we were asked not to allow them to go, when the time arrived for their due release, witbout informing the police that they were going.''

''There were some police on duty down there, were there not?''.

"Yes; but they were outside the boundary of the quarantine station, not inside.''

Would it be difficult for anyone to escape from the station enclosure?". asked the reporter.

If anyone had a special object for wishing to escape, I have no doubt that he could accomplish it," the president replied.

''Were the police informed, then, when these men were released?'' the pressman asked.

"Well, as Mr. Fosbery sits at this table as a member of the board, there is no necessity to tell him what goes on here," rejoined Dr. Thompson, 'All these releases came before the board for approval, you know." Dr. Tidswell, who was acting as President of the Board of Health during Dr. Thompson’s absence from duty, said that he could give no information beyond what his chief had just previously stated.

From inquiries made in other quarters, however, it would appear that the incident caused no little stir in official circles at the time, and that more than one cabinet meeting was held to take it into consideration. However, the general opinion now seems to be that all the trouble taken was totally unnecessary.

(Sydney) Evening News, 31 July, 1901

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Last modified: February 2, 1998

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