|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
Establishment of Railway Construction Branch
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways presented its first report to the Legislative Assembly in 1891 and recommended that construction of railways be separate from the management of railway traffic and maintenance. From 1883 these functions had been the responsibility of the Victorian Railways Commissioners (VA 2876).
Accordingly, under the provisions of the Railways Act (Amended Act) 1891 55Vic., No.1250 responsibility for the construction and completion of all lines of railway was vested in the Board of Land and Works (VA 744), to take effect from the 1 January 1892.
The agency responsible for railway construction subsequently became known as the Railway Construction Branch, Board of Land and Works. Also under the provisions of the Railways Act 1891, the Minister responsible for railways matters was deemed to be, ex officio, a Vice-President of the Board of Land and Works - a return to the situation which had existed prior to the transfer of the management of the railways to the Victorian Railways Commissioners in 1883-1884. Until 1934 a Minister of Railways was responsible, after which the title changed to Minister of Transport.
Role of Board of Land and Works
The Act authorized the Board to accept contracts for works to be undertaken and determined that once a line became completed the responsibility of the Board would cease and responsibility would be assumed by the Victorian Railways Commissioners. The Commissioners retained responsibility for maintenance and supervision of lines of railway as well as the general management of railway services and traffic.
The 1891 Act also provided that the officers and employees of the Engineer-in -Chief's Branch of Victorian Railways be transferred to the employment of the Board of Land and Works.
This arrangement continued until 1964 when the Board of Land and Works (VA 744) was dissolved. Whereas most of the statutory responsibilities of the Board could be transferred to responsible Ministers this was not the case for the railway construction responsibilities of the Railway Construction Branch.
Two main problems existed. Firstly, as the staff had been employed by the Board of Land and Works as a statutory authority, and were therefore not subject to the Public Service Acts, a Minister could not become the 'employer' of such staff. Secondly, a Minister could not assume the Board's role in industrial awards. It was therefore necessary that the Minister responsible be removed from the administration of railway construction.
Establishment of Railway Construction Board 1964
Consequently, under the provisions of the Public Lands and Works Act 1964 (No.7228), a Railway Construction Board (VA 691) was established on 1 January 1965, assuming responsibility for railway construction from the Railway Construction Branch, Board of Land and Works.
The end date of this agency has been artificially extended to allow the previous/subsequent relationship to be expressed on the database.
Location of Records
See List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, section 3.21.0