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Research Guides


Collections in Melbourne: A Guide to Commonwealth Records


Trade and customs

Image 16: Mrs and Miss Lih Moon, c 1900. Photographs of Chinese entering Australia. Collector of Customs, Melbourne (CA 789).

Image 16: Mrs and Miss Lih Moon, c 1900. Photographs of Chinese entering Australia. Collector of Customs, Melbourne (CA 789).
NAA: MT33/7, NN Box 1
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Administrative history

Section 51(i) of the Constitution empowers the Commonwealth government to make laws in respect of trade and commerce. In 1901, the Department of Trade and Customs (CA 10) was established. Its functions included customs and excise, trade agreements, tariff policy, import licensing, bounties and trade promotion.

In 1925, the Commerce Branch of the Department of Trade and Customs passed to the newly established Department of Markets and Migration (CA 20). As a result, the Department of Markets and Migration became responsible for the encouragement and promotion of Australian overseas trade. This function then passed through a succession of departments including Department of Markets [I] (CA 21), Department of Markets and Transport (CA 23), Department of Markets [II] (CA 25), Department of Commerce (CA 28) and Department of Commerce and Agriculture (CA 48).

The Department of Trade and Customs retained responsibility for customs and excise, tariffs, import licensing and general trade policy. During World War II, it took on extra responsibility administering a number of regulations under the National Security Act 1940 relating to price control and the export, import and distribution of goods.

In 1956, the Department of Trade and Customs was abolished and most of its functions were split between the Department of Customs and Excise (CA 62) and Department of Trade [I] (CA 64). The former was responsible for customs and excise, while the latter was responsible for trade policy, trade treaties and agreements, trade investigations, tariff policy and trade promotion. In 1963, the Department of Trade [I] was abolished and replaced by the Department of Trade and Industry (CA 66) which, in addition to its trade functions, was responsible for secondary industry.

Records

Holdings in the Melbourne collection include general correspondence series for most of the departments and/or their Victorian state branches responsible for trade, including the following departments: Trade and Customs (CA 10), Markets and Migration (CA 20), Markets and Transport (CA 23), Markets [I] (CA 21), Commerce (CA 28), Commerce and Agriculture (CA 48), Trade [I] (CA 64), Customs and Excise (CA 62) and Trade and Industry (CA 66).

Also held are records of the Tariff Board (CA 103) and the Trade Publicity Directorate (CA 3558), including correspondence files, trade promotion films and sound tracks, photographs, advertising material, publicity reports, monthly reports and minutes of meetings.

There are extensive holdings in the Melbourne collection of customs records, which include nineteenth-century records transferred to the Commonwealth's custody when it assumed responsibility for customs at Federation. Many of the records are from the Collector of Customs, Melbourne (CA 789). Records include ships' registers, outward and inward passenger lists, crew lists, ships files, distillery statistics, general and classified correspondence files, policy files, immigration registers, censorship records, import licensing files, aircraft registers and the Australian Customs Service historical collection.


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Chapter 2
The Melbourne Collection by Subject