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Appointment of First Minister of Immigration
In 1923 a Minister of Immigration was appointed to be responsible for the State's obligations under the British Empire Settlement Act 1922 and associated British assisted immigration schemes. Between 1923 and 1943 the Minister was known variously as Minister of Immigration, Minister in Charge of Immigration and Minister of Markets and Immigration.
Assisted Immigration 1923-1930
Under the British Empire Settlement Act 1922 a number of agreements were made between the Imperial, Commonwealth and State Governments to encourage British residents to migrate to Victoria for the purpose of land settlement or to augment the labour force. Administration of the assisted immigration scheme was also subject to a joint Commonwealth and State agreement made in March 1921 which came into effect the following year.
The Minister was therefore responsible for ensuring the State's obligations under these schemes. This involved:
administration of the nomination scheme, whereby residents of the State could nominate British residents for migration
determination of the numbers and categories of migrants required by the State
provision of reception and settlement services for migrants.
In 1923 overseas promotion and supervision of selection for these schemes became a Commonwealth responsibility. Operational responsibility in Victoria was exercised by the Department of Crown Lands and Survey (VA 538) in 1923-1927 and the Public Works Department (VA 669) in 1927-1930. By 1930 deterioration of economic conditions resulted in a suspension of these programs.
State Responsibility for Immigration 1930-1983
After 1930 the role and responsibility of the Minister is unclear. When British assisted immigration resumed in 1947, again on a joint Commonwealth-State basis, it was at first the responsibility of the Chief Secretary (VRG 26) from 1947 to 1950, then the Minister of Immigration (VRG 90) from 1950 to 1976, and finally the Minister of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (VRG 68) until 1983 when this function in its entirety passed to the Commonwealth (VRG 87).
History of Administration of Immigration in Victoria Prior to 1923
Pre-Federation control and regulation of British and alien (non-British or foreign) immigration, naturalisation, administration of assisted immigration and nomination schemes, as well as associated reception, settlement and welfare services, were the responsibility of the Police Magistrate (VRG 7) and Superintendent of the Port Phillip District (VRG 11) and, after separation from New South Wales, of the Colonial Secretary (VRG 16) and later the Commissioner of Trade and Customs (VRG 22).
Shortly after Federation, the Commonwealth (VRG 87) assumed primary responsibility for the control and regulation of non-British immigration (both assisted and unassisted), unassisted British immigration (except for a brief period from 1975-1983) naturalisation, and associated reception, settlement, employment and welfare services.
Responsibility for monitoring of immigrant arrivals, part of a wider role in monitoring passenger arrivals and departures by ship, passed from the State to the Commonwealth in 1923.
Administration of assisted British immigration, nomination and sponsorship schemes, which flourished in the periods 1906-1930 and from 1947, was a State responsibility until 1923, in 1906-1918 under the Commissioner of Crown Lands and Survey (VRG 18), and in 1918-1923 under the Minister for Labour (VRG 42). Thereafter such schemes were jointly administered by the State and the Commonwealth.
For a brief history of the administration of immigration in Victoria from 1839 to 1983, see VRG 68 Immigration and Ethnic Affairs.
Location of Records
See List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, section 3.6.2 (VA 538 Department of Crown Lands and Survey records) and 3.19.1 (VA 669 Public Works Department records). Relevant Commonwealth records are held by the Australian Archives.
Minister of Immigration 1923-1924
Minister in Charge of Immigration 1924-1924
Minister of Immigration 1924-1927
Minister in Charge of Immigration 1927-1928
Minister of Markets and Immigration 1928-1929
Minister in Charge of Immigration 1929-1943