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Research Guides


Collections in Perth: A Guide to Commonwealth Government Records


2. Administrative Services

Commonwealth 'administrative services' agencies have existed since Federation under several names and with a range of functions. Among other things, these functions included the conduct of elections; the leasing, purchase, maintenance, construction and protection of government and diplomatic buildings; the storage of archives; the coordination of manpower services during and after World War II; the provision of meteorological services; and government publishing.

Agencies that have handled these functions include the Department of Services and Property, the Department of Administrative Services, the Department of Finance and Administration, the Commonwealth Electoral Office (later known as the Australian Electoral Office), and others.

Many government administrative functions have been privatised in recent years. The Department of Finance and Administration now controls a considerable range of records from a wide variety of agencies whose functions it inherited and later contracted out or privatised.

Electoral matters

The Agency

Commonwealth Electoral Officers for each State were originally created by the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902.

The Commonwealth Electoral Office administered all Acts and Regulations relating to the electoral system and the conduct of elections and referendums. It was also required to conduct industrial ballots on behalf of unions. In Western Australia, Divisional Returning Officers were responsible to the Commonwealth Electoral Officer.

Other agencies, including the Postmaster-General's Department, the Department of Education, Employment and Training and the Australian Federal Police, created records series dealing with electoral matters. Some examples of these are included in the following list of series.

  • 1903–73: Commonwealth Electoral Office, WA (CA 5602)

The Records

The Commonwealth Electoral Office administered all aspects of electoral legislation. The National Library of Australia and the National Archives of Australia microfilmed the Commonwealth electoral rolls for Western Australia and these are available as microfiche in the reading room of the Perth Office. The main correspondence series of the Australian Electoral Commission, WA deals with administrative and operational subjects such as accommodation, accounts, census information, redistribution, enrolment of electors, polling places and booths, and industrial elections.

CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1883–1926
Perth
This series contains administrative and general correspondence files for all branches of the PMG. Matters covered include the inauguration and extension of letter deliveries, the acquisition of buildings and building sites, the erection of new buildings, the appropriation of reserves for Commonwealth public buildings and the erection of telephone and telegraph lines throughout the State
Series: K1
Quantity: 10 metres
Recorded by: 1883–1926: Postmaster-General's Department, WA (CA 1035)
Appointment of officers to electoral positions, 1905 K1, 3461/05
COMMONWEALTH ELECTORAL ROLLS FOR WA, 1901–
Perth
This series consists of microfiche copies of published Commonwealth electoral rolls for WA. The rolls are in chronological order within divisions.
Series: K1288
Quantity: 0.01 metres
Recorded by: 1903–73: Commonwealth Electoral Office, WA (CA 5602)
COMMONWEALTH ELECTORAL ROLLS FOR WA (PRINTED), 1914–
Perth
This series consists of published electoral rolls for WA. The rolls list alphabetically all persons eligible to vote in Federal elections and referendums. The rolls are arranged in chronological order within divisions, broken down into electorates and electoral subdivisions. The rolls contain voters' electoral roll numbers, surnames, given names, gender, addresses and occupations.
Series: K833
Quantity: 18 metres
Recorded by: 1914–73: Commonwealth Electoral Office, WA (CA 5602)
INTELLIGENCE REPORTS OF INTERNMENTS, REPATRIATIONS, AFFILIATIONS, AND GENERAL INVESTIGATIONS, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1915–20
Perth
Series: PP14/1
Quantity: 7.76 metres
Recorded by: 1915–19: Headquarters, 5th Military District [I], Commonwealth Military Forces (CMF), WA (CA 4811); 1919–20: Commonwealth Investigation Branch, WA (CA 908)
Commonwealth Electoral Officer, c1915–c1920 PP14/1, 4/1/135
OFFICIAL ROLLS OF CURTIN, FREMANTLE, MOORE, PERTH, STIRLING AND SWAN ELECTORAL DIVISIONS, 1929–63
Perth
This series contains annotated rolls for the electoral divisions of Canning, Curtin, Forrest, Fremantle, Kalgoorlie, Moore, Perth, Stirling and Swan.
Series: PP153/1
Quantity: 40 metres
Recorded by: 1929–67: Commonwealth Electoral Office, WA (CA 5602)
ADMINISTRATION AND PROCEDURAL FILES OF CIVILIAN REGISTRATION, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1942–46
Perth
This series details administrative actions taken and procedures followed when registering civilian males and females (British subjects only) aged 15 years and over under the National Security (Man Power) Regulations of the National Security Act 1939.
Series: PP59/3
Quantity: 0.36 metres
Recorded by: 1942–46: Commonwealth Electoral Office, WA (CA 5602)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 'WE' PREFIX, 1964– (CONTENTS RANGE: 1935– )
Perth
This series consists of the agency's main correspondence files.
Series: K513
Quantity: 8 metres
Recorded by: 1935–73: Commonwealth Electoral Office, WA, (CA 5602)
FILE REGISTER FOR CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 'WE' PREFIX, 1964–
Perth
This series consists of the file register for the agency's main correspondence file series (K513).
Series: K992
Quantity: 0.23 metres
Recorded by: 1964–73: Commonwealth Electoral Office, WA (CA 5602)
Correspondence files, annual single number series, with 'WE' prefix 1964 - 1974
Perth
Series: PP631/1
Quantity: 3.42 metres
Recorded by: 1964–1973: Commonwealth Electoral Office, WA (CA 5602); 1973–1974: Australian Electoral Office, Western Australia (CA 2626)
1964 Senate election nominations, 1964 PP631/1, WE1964/218
Correspondence files, annual single number series with 'WE' prefix 1964 – 1974
Perth
Series: PP747/1
Quantity: 3.24 metres
Recorded by: 1964–1973: Commonwealth Electoral Office, WA (CA 5602); 1973 – 1974: Australian Electoral Office, Western Australia (CA 2626)
Maps – 1968 redistribution, 1968 PP747/1, WE1967/557
Extension of franchise to Aboriginals – education, 1969–71 PP747/1, WE1969/29
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 'WE' PREFIX, 1960–
Perth
Series: PP909/1
Quantity: 1.08 metres
Recorded by: 1960 – 2973: Commonwealth Electoral Office, WA (CA 5602); 1973 – 1979: Australian Electoral Office, Western Australia (CA 2626)
Amalgamated Engineering Union Ballot, 1964–65 PP909/1, WE1964/251A
OFFICIAL ELECTORAL ROLLS OF WA, 1967–73
Perth
This series contains official (working) electoral rolls for Federal electoral divisions and subdivisions in WA.
Series: PP531/1
Quantity: 68 metres
Recorded by: 1967–73: Commonwealth Electoral Commission, WA (CA 5602)

Land, surveying, property and works

Although the Public Works Branch, WA was created as early as October 1906, the Commonwealth continued to rely on the State Government for much of its works program until well after World War I.

This dependence is shown by numerous early twentieth-century architectural drawings bearing the signature of the State Architect. A collection of 1913 drawings of the General Post Office in Forrest Place, Perth is a notable example of Commonwealth work undertaken by the State.

The Commonwealth agencies listed below were responsible for vital and significant building projects throughout WA. They provided general infrastructure for the State and its private sector, including the means by which other Commonwealth agencies were able to carry out their responsibilities (eg the establishment and development of Perth's domestic and international airports).

The Agencies

By 1918 a Commonwealth–State agreement saw a Commonwealth Works Registrar appointed to the State Public Works Department. By 1926 the occupant of this position was responsible for the ministerial authority for designs, economy of design, methods of execution and prompt payments.

In 1916 the Public Works Branch became part of the Commonwealth Department of Works and Railways. This arrangement lasted until 1932 when the department was abolished and its functions passed to the new Department of the Interior.

World War II provided the catalyst for a considerable expansion of departmental responsibilities, including 'manpower' issues. These responsibilities continued after 1945 with major postwar development and reconstruction.

The Property and Survey Branch of the Department of Interior, WA was established in 1946. It existed until 1952 when the Chief Property Officer was created.

SURVEY FIELD BOOKS, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1906–97 (CONTENTS RANGE: 1893–1997)
Perth
This series consists of survey field books recording data from various locations throughout Western Australia. The books include field, level, stadia and soundings rolls. They were used to record instrument readings for areas being surveyed.
Series: K1284
Quantity: 46 metres
Recorded by: 1906–32: Public Works Branch, WA (CA 760); 1932–46: Works and Services Branch, WA (CA 971); 1946–52: Property and Survey Branch, WA (CA 4816); 1952–75: Chief Property Officer, Perth (CA 1065)
ORIGINAL DRAWINGS, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, ALPHABETICAL PREFIXES AND SUFFIXES, 1930–58
Perth
This series contains original drawings of construction projects in WA. The drawings are internal working documents of the WA branch of the Department, distinct from, and created prior to, the contract plans and shop drawings.
Series: PP712/1
Quantity: 0.06 metres
Recorded by: 1930–32: Public Works Branch, WA (CA 760); 1932–46: Works and Services Branch, WA (CA 971); 1946–58: Director of Works, WA (CA 2916)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1901–97
Perth
This series contains files on the department's operational and administrative functions in WA. They contain correspondence, maps, plans, survey reports, completion reports and requisitions relating to the acquisition and leasing of, and alterations to, properties controlled by the Commonwealth.
Series: K273
Quantity: 198 metres
Recorded by: 1901–11: Department of Home Affairs [I], Central Office (CA 8); 1911–32: Lands and Survey Branch (CA 737); 1932–39: Property and Survey Branch (CA 738); 1939–46: Works and Services Branch, WA (CA 971); 1946–52: Property and Survey Branch, WA (CA 4816); 1952–75: Chief Property Officer, Perth (CA 1065)
Albany – health – quarantine station, 1948–56 K273, 1956/111part 1
Surveys – instructions to surveyors, 1948–64 K273, 1948/35
Talgarno WRE (Weapons Research Establishment) rocket range townsite surveys, 1959–63 K273, 1959/30
LEASE AND LICENCE DOCUMENTS, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1905–97
Perth
This series contains leasing and licensing documents about properties leased or owned by the Commonwealth in WA. They include caveats, certificates of title, conveyances and other securities.
Series: K983
Quantity: 3 metres
Recorded by: 1905–11: Department of Home Affairs [I], Central Office (CA 8); 1911–32: Lands and Survey Branch, WA (CA 737); 1932–39: Property and Survey Branch, WA (CA 738); 1939–46: Works and Services Branch, WA (CA 971); 1946–52: Property and Survey Branch, WA (CA 4816); 1952–75: Chief Property Officer, Perth (CA 1065)
Kalgoorlie – Commonwealth railways, 1932 K983, 1622
PLANS AND DRAWING, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES (IMPOSED), 1906–97 (CONTENTS RANGE: 1876–1947)
Perth
This series collates plans and drawings produced or acquired by the agency.
Series: K1076
Quantity: 0.06 metres
Recorded by: 1906–32: Public Works Branch, WA (CA 760); 1932–46: Works and Services Branch, WA (CA 971); 1946–74: Director of Works, WA (CA 2916)
PLANS AND DRAWINGS: BEVERLEY POST OFFICE, WA, 1909–51
Perth
This series consists of four drawings of the Beverley Post Office.
Series: PP324/7
Quantity: 0.01 metres
Recorded by: 1909–32: Public Works Branch, WA (CA 760); 1933–46: Works and Services Branch, WA (CA 971); 1946–51: Director of Works, WA (CA 2916)
SUBJECT INDEX CARDS TO LAND AND PROPERTY FILES, 1910–51
Perth
This set of index cards was created by the central office of the Department of the Interior (known as the Home Affairs Department prior to 1910). It holds information about Western Australian subdivisions, card numbers, current papers, the creators of the records and particulars of outwards registration.
Series: PP58/1
Quantity: 1 metre
Recorded by: Property and Survey Branch, WA (CA 4816)
PROPERTY AND SURVEY BRANCH CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1911–73
Perth
This series contains correspondence files about the acquisition of land and property, settlement of claims arising from such purchases and acquisitions, and associated subjects dealing with surveys and searches.
Series: PP473/1
Quantity: 6 metres
Recorded by: Property and Survey Branch, WA (CA 4816); Chief Property Officer, Perth (CA 1065)
PLANS AND DRAWINGS OF GPO, PERTH, 1913–14
Perth
This series contains a group of plans and drawings of the General Post Office in Forrest Place, Perth. The set contains 35 linen plans and a four-page legal agreement.
Series: PP473/2
Quantity: 0.03 metres
Recorded by: 1913–14: Public Works Branch, WA (CA 760)
TENDER ACCEPTANCE AND CONTRACT DOCUMENT, GPO, PERTH, 1913–14
Perth
This series contains one contract document titled 'Perth New General Post Office'. It is a formal acceptance of tender and contract by C W Arnott to carry out the works and services for the project.
Series: PP324/3
Quantity: 0.04 metres
Recorded by: 1914: Public Works Branch, WA (CA 760)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER, 1922–97
Perth
The files in this series contain correspondence, designs, drawings, contracts, minutes and press releases. The series covers a wide range of departmental functions. It also contains files on various construction projects (including war service homes) and general and project files on Commonwealth-owned or controlled historic buildings and structures.
Series: K276
Quantity: 175 metres
Recorded by: 1922–32: Public Works Branch, WA (CA 760); 1932–46: Works and Services Branch, WA (CA 971); 1946–74: Director of Works, WA (CA 2916)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1923–77
Perth
This series consists of correspondence files for the Public Works, Services and Property and Survey branches.
Series: PP609/1
Quantity: 5 metres
Recorded by: 1923–32: Public Works Branch, WA (CA 760); 1932–46: Works and Services Branch, WA (CA 971); 1946–52: Property and Survey Branch, WA (CA 4816); 1952–75: Chief Property Officer, Perth (CA 1065)
(Works/Property) Exmouth US Navy communications site, 1965–69 PP609/1, 1971/147
REQUISITION FILES, FINANCIAL ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, ALPHABETICAL PREFIX, 1925–61
Perth
Records in this series describe jobs carried out either by the Works Department or under its supervision on behalf of client departments or Commonwealth agencies. They generally contain plans and/or specifications, cost estimates, tenders, approvals for payments and general correspondence about particular jobs. Some files are about work performed for the United States Navy during World War II, while others deal with the construction of buildings for the Australian Whaling Commission.
Series: K1141
Quantity: 16 metres
Recorded by: 1925–32: Public Works Branch, WA (CA 760); 1932–46: Works and Services Branch, WA (CA 971); 1946–61: Director of Works, WA (CA 2916)
JOB FILES, FINANCIAL YEAR SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, ALPHABETICAL PREFIX, 1942–62
Perth
This series contains files on jobs carried out either by the Works Department or under its supervision on behalf of client departments or Commonwealth agencies. The files generally contain plans and/or specifications, cost estimates, tenders (where obtained), approvals for payment and general correspondence about the jobs.
Series: PP280/1
Quantity: 50 metres
Recorded by: 1942–46: Works and Services Branch, WA (CA 971); 1946–62: Director of Works, WA (CA 2916)
CONFIDENTIAL CORRESPONDENCE FILES RELATING TO PROPERTY ACQUISITION SURVEY, ETC, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1943–74
Perth
Series: PP520/1
Quantity: 2 metres
Recorded by: 1946–52: Property and Survey Branch, WA (CA 4816); 1952–74: Chief Property Officer, Perth (CA 1065)
NON–REGISTERED SKETCH PLANS AND MAPS, 1877–1946
Perth
This series consists of a group of unregistered sketch plans and maps of pre- and post-Federation post offices and telegraph stations and associated installations.
Series: PP554/1
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: Property and Survey Branch, WA (CA 4816)

Public Service

The Agency

When the Commonwealth Public Service was formed on 1 January 1901, most of its officers were transferred from the State services and initially worked under the laws of their respective States.

The proclamation of the Public Service Acton 1 January 1903 led to the creation of a Public Service Inspector's Office in Western Australia. Under this Act, Public Service inspectors examined the administration of each Commonwealth department, to assess the performance of its officers and the department's overall operational efficiency.

Alfred Deakin described the Public Service inspectors as the watchdogs of the public, the Parliament and the Minister. He believed their role was to prevent dominance by the permanent heads of departments and to counter the dangers of favouritism, stagnation and overstaffing.

The primary role of the Public Service Inspector's Office in each State was to implement personnel policy within the framework laid down by the Public Service Board and to advise it on developments in the public and private employment sectors that might lead to changes in policy.

The first Public Service Inspector for WA was Amaziah Green.

  • 1903–78: Public Service Inspector, WA (CA 872)

The Records

Consistent with the description of their principal functions, the records of the Public Service Inspector's Office and the Public Service Board mainly deal with staffing and agency establishment matters, including classifications, appointments, promotions, dismissals, conditions of employment and training and the regulation of the Public Service. Such information is valuable for a variety of reasons, including genealogical, historical or legislative research. Listed below are some of the record series that fall into this category.

APPOINTMENT CERTIFICATES FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1911–57
Perth
This series contains certificates of appointment of persons employed (on probation) in the Commonwealth Public Service. The certificates show position designation, examination number, position on pass list, name and address, date of birth, position, annual salary, cause of vacancy and notation regarding character checks
Series: PP24/2
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1911–57: Public Service Inspector, WA (CA 872)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1923–50
Perth
This series consists of the agency's first main correspondence files and deals principally with organisational and establishment matters for Commonwealth departments and agencies in WA. These matters include the opening and closing of branches and offices, the creation, reclassification and abolition of positions in the Public Service and reports of investigations made within departments during inspections of departmental functions. Related matters such as amendments to the Public Service Act, recruitment, staff training, salaries, superannuation and conferences are also dealt with.
Series: K1184
Quantity: 11 metres
Recorded by: 1923–50: Public Service Inspector, WA (CA 872)
Post offices – outline of organisation, 1925–49 K1184, 240
Temporary employment – married women – instructions, 1940–44 K1184, 5/13/9/1
POLICY AND GENERAL DECISION FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1925–56
Perth
This series contains information on policy direction for promotion appeals, holidays, associations, returns, insurance of Commonwealth property, position creation, economies, remote locality allowances, the Women's Employment Board and general decisions on irregularities.
Series: PP24/3
Quantity: 1 metre
Recorded by: 1925–56: Public Service Inspector, WA (CA 872)
Returned soldiers – preference to, 1941–45 PP24/3, 199/1
Women's Employment Board – females employed under CPS Act in male 4th division positions of assistant, etc, 1944–51 PP24/3, 138/18
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1951–87 (CONTENTS RANGE: 1923–87)
Perth
This series contains correspondence files dealing principally with organisational and establishment matters in Commonwealth departments and agencies in WA.
Series: K277
Quantity: 42 metres
Recorded by: 1951–78: Public Service Inspector, WA (CA 872)
INDEX CARDS FOR CORRESPONDENCE FILES (PERSONAL), ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1951–87
Perth
This series comprises index cards to personal files raised within the department's overall general correspondence file series. Individual files were raised when Public Service employees had any dealings with the department. The cards show names, file numbers, promotions, transfers, reclassifications and other matters.
Series: K615
Quantity: 1 metres
Recorded by: 1951–78: Public Service Inspector, WA (CA 872)
SUBJECT INDEX CARDS (SETS 1 AND 2) FOR CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1951–87
Perth
This series contains subject index cards for the department's correspondence series K615. There are two sets of cards ranging from 1951–c1969 and c1960–1987. It appears that around 1969 a new set of cards was made up that included entries from the previous set dating back to c1960. The files were top-numbered, with the archival action being shown, and the series operated in tandem with K615.
Series: K616
Quantity: 1 metre
Recorded by: 1951–78: Public Service Inspector, WA (CA 872)

Supply, purchasing and disposal

The Agencies

Administrative agencies – particularly since World War II – have principally been concerned with the supply, purchasing and disposal of goods and services for Commonwealth Governments. Over the years these functions were administered by a variety of agencies.

  • 1946–49: Commonwealth Disposals Commission, Regional Office, WA (CA 7243)
  • 1946–52: Property and Survey Branch, WA (CA 4816)
  • 1950–74: Department of Supply, State Office, WA (by 1967, known as the Regional Office, WA) (CA 3672)
  • 1952–75: Chief Property Officer, Perth (CA 1065)
  • 1953–76: Stores and Transport Branch, WA (CA 7006)

The Records

The following series contain records about a diverse range of activities performed on behalf of the Commonwealth by administrative agencies charged with responsibility for the functions of supply, purchasing and disposal in WA.

COMMONWEALTH DISPOSALS COMMISSION DOCUMENTS, 1946
Perth
This series contains documents about property, land and building disposals by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission in WA.
Series: PP214/1
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1946: Commonwealth Disposals Commission, Regional Office, WA (CA 7243)
GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1953–74
Perth
This series contains correspondence records for the Department of Supply about policy matters and special projects controlled and/or operated by the department. Subjects include the geological and geophysical activities of the Department of National Development, the Blue Streak intercontinental ballistic missile project and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Project Mercury at the Muchea Tracking Station.
Series: PP548/1
Quantity: 5 metres
Recorded by: 1953–74: Department of Supply, State Office (by 1967, known as the Regional Office), WA (CA 3672)
Auctions – sales by DCB – Nungarin auction, 1960–61 PP548/1, 045/1/5
Films – general – Weapons Research Establishment, 1961–68 PP548/1, 126/3/1
Buildings and works – sites – disposal of Commonwealth property: formerly No. 2 Munitions Factory at Kalgoorlie, 1962 PP548/1, 060/18/1
Buildings and works – research and development – Project Mercury – Muchea, 1963–70 PP548/1, 062/13/1
LISTS OF REGISTRATION HEADINGS FOR CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1964–70
Perth
This series contains lists of registration headings for correspondence files for the Supply, Contracts and Disposals Branch.
Series: K657
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1964–70: Department of Supply, State Office, WA (by 1967, known as the Regional Office, WA) (CA 3672)

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