|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
Price control was instituted as part of the defence responsibilities of the Commonwealth Government through the National Security (Prices) Regulations 1939. A Prices Branch was established by the Department of Trade and Customs under a Commissioner with a Deputy Commissioner in each of the six states.
Following the Rents and Prices Referendum of May 1948, the Commonwealth Government relinquished responsibility for price control. From September 1948, the State Government assumed responsibility for the administration of price control in Victoria.
A Prices Decontrol Commissioner was appointed under the provisions of the Prices Regulation Act, 1948. The Commissioner was appointed by the Governor in Council and was not subject to the provisions of the Public Service Act. Under the provisions of the Prices Regulation (Amendment) Act 1951 the Commissioner became known as the Prices Commissioner. The Prices Regulation Act also provided for the appointment of additional officers to administer price control in Victoria. A Prices Control Branch (also known as the Victorian Prices Branch) was established and located within the Law Department (VA 864). In 1950 the Minister in Charge of Prices was appointed and acquired responsibility for price control from the Attorney-General.
To ensure continuity a number of employees who were members of the Commonwealth Public Service remained with the agency once the function came under State jurisdiction whilst others were employed as part of the Victorian State Public Service. Records were also transferred to the Victorian Prices Control Branch and provided the basis for the records created by the Branch.
Although price control in Victoria ended on 31 December 1954, the Minister did not resign his commission until March 1955.
Price control, as administered under the Prices Regulation Act was to
prevent undue increases in prices and rates for goods, services and land, particularly food, clothing and housing during the period of post-war readjustment
regulate prices and rates for goods and services regarded as essential or which were in short supply
bring about the progressive removal of price control
Businesses were required to furnish balance sheets and other accounts and statements and returns to the Prices Commissioner to assist in the monitoring and determination of prices and for determinations regarding the payment of subsidies. The Prices Commissioner had the power to prosecute businesses which failed to furnish documentation or charged prices above the maximum set by the Prices Control Branch.