|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
The Melbourne Harbor Trust Act 40 Vict., No.5523 (1876) which became effective on 1 January 1877, provided for the establishment of a statutory body to be known as the Melbourne Harbor Trust Commissioners. The Act provided for the appointment of fifteen Commissioners representing various interests in the Port.
The first election and appointment of Commissioners occurred on 30 March 1877, followed by a meeting on 11 April 1877 at which office bearers were elected.
The long title of the establishing Act states as its purpose,
"to provide for the Regulation, Management and Improvement of the Port of Melbourne and certain portions of the River Yarra Yarra and certain portions of the Saltwater River...."
and thus identifies the key responsibilities vested in the Melbourne Harbor Trust Commissioners, which in more specific terms included the following major functions:
Regulation of the trade of the port with respect to such matters as
* landing of shipping of merchandise
* arrivals and departures of vessels
* wharfage rates
Management of port facilities such as wharves, piers, jetties, docks, ships, lights, buoys, beacons, moorings, tugs, workshops, water police, emergency services, and land adjacent to the port's waterways
Improvements to the port including
* widening and deepening the port's waterways
* construction and maintenance of wharfage accommodation, docks and other port facilities as mentioned above
* regular dredging operations
* control of noxious trades and deposits of refuse within the port boundary
* co-ordination of the above functions to ensure the efficient operation of all port activities.
Prior to the establishment of the Trust there had been no co-ordinated management and development of the Port of Melbourne. Ports and harbours functions, including the control of vessel movements and berthings, provision and maintenance of navigational aids, and collection of wharfage rates, were previously the responsibility of the Ports and Harbours Branch which operated within the Department of Trade and Customs (see VA 606).
Development and Reconstitution
On 14 November 1883 two additional Commissioners were appointed under provisions of the Melbourne Harbor Trust Act Further Amendment Act 47 Vic., No.763 1883.
Until 1900 the Melbourne Harbor Trust Commissioners was responsible to the Commissioner of Trade and Customs (VRG 22) and thereafter to the Minister for Public Works (VRG 28).
A major reconstitution of the Melbourne Harbor Trust Commissioners occurred in 1913. Under the Melbourne Harbor Trust Act 1913 (No.2449) the body of seventeen elected Commissioners was replaced by five Commissioners appointed by the Governor-in-Council.
The five Commissioners included a full-time Chairman and four representatives of the following : owners of ships, exporters, importers and primary producers. The first meeting of the new body occurred on 4 February 1913. Under the provisions the Melbourne Harbor Trust Act 1913, responsibility for the railway piers at Port Melbourne and Williamstown were also vested in the Commissioners with effect from 1 December 1913. This brought all wharves, piers and jetties within the Port of Melbourne under the authority.
In 1954 a sixth Commissioner was appointed to represent the interests of labour.
Establishment of Port of Melbourne Authority
Under the Port of Melbourne Authority Act 1978 the Melbourne Harbor Trust Commissioners was reconstituted as the Port of Melbourne Authority (VA 1426), with effect from 8 November 1978. Although the change of name, which was in line with modern practice with respect to the naming of organizations responsible for the operation of ports throughout the world, did not reflect a change in function, the Port of Melbourne Authority has been registered as a separate agency (see VA 1426).
Location of Records
See list below and also List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, section 3.21.16 Melbourne Harbor Trust Commissioners.