|Description of this GroupDescription of this Group|
FORMATION AND FUNCTIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES 1978-1985
The Property and Services portfolio was formally created by Order-in-Council on 16 May 1978. Originally it brought together agencies, formerly the responsibility of the Treasurer (VRG 23), Chief Secretary (VRG 26) and Premier (VRG 50), which were principally concerned with providing centralised services to other government agencies and information services to the public and government. Agencies initially grouped in the portfolio included the
Victorian Government Printing Office (VA 1035),
Government Computing Service (VA 1857),
Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (VA 983),
Public Record Office (VA 683),
State Electoral Office (VA 1061) and
Government Statist and Actuary (VA 989).
In November 1991 the government information service and the government courier service transferred to Property and Services from the Premier's portfolio (VRG 50). Responsibility for government motor transport transferred from the Premier's portfolio in 1984.
The Government Statist and Actuary transferred to the Treasurer's portfolio (VRG 23) in 1983.
The Department of Property and Services (VA 430) was established to play a central management and co-ordinating role.
From 1978/79 until 1985 the Minister of Property and Services was also responsible for the function of monitoring government land sales. This function was transferred to the Treasurer in 1985.
All purchases and sales of properties by Government of $100,000 or more require Land Monitoring approval to ensure that all Government requirements under the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act 1986 in relation to property transactions are met. The function was established to provide Government with an independent safeguard against further land dealings of the type criticised at the Gowans Board of Enquiry and later at the Frost Royal Commission. This function is completely separate from the budgeting and planning functions in relation to government real estate. The function encompasses:
monitoring all purchases and sales of properties by Government of $100,000 including assessing submissions from agencies and monitoring of auctions.
the development of policies for the management of government real estate
assisting in identifying properties that are surplus to current needs. Administering the Government's decision in relation to the disposal of surplus railway land
EXPANDED ROLE FROM 1985
Following extensive machinery of government changes in 1985, the role of the Property and Services portfolio was expanded to include property and asset management, land identification and management and land information services.
The Minister inherited responsibility for:
the Property and Services Division from the Public Works portfolio (VRG 28)
the Titles Office and Registrar-General's Office (VA 862) from the Law portfolio (VRG 19)
LANDATA from the Planning and Environment portfolio (VRG 65)
the Surveyor-General's Office from the Conservation, Forests and Lands portfolio (VRG 75)
the Government Employee Housing Authority (VA 1356) from the Housing portfolio (VRG 53)
the Valuer-General's Office (VA 2322) from the Local Government portfolio (VRG 57).
ADDITIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES FROM 1988
In 1988, following further machinery of government changes the Minister inherited responsibility for the:
sale of Crown land, particularly by public auction, from the Minister of Conservation, Forests and Lands (VRG 75)
supply of furniture, stores and equipment, fitting out government accommodation, maintenance of air-conditioning, and related survey and drafting for government constructions from the Minister of Housing and Construction (VRG 88)
control, restraint and monitoring of prices from the Minister of Industry, Technology and Resources (VRG 82).
In 1988 responsibility for registering inquests passed from the Registrar-General (VA 862) to the State Coroner's Office (VA 2807) within the Law Group (VRG 19).
In 1989 responsibility for the Office of Prices passed to Consumer Affairs (VRG 63).
SELECTED FUNCTIONS ASSOCIATED WITH THE GROUP
Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration
Compulsory registration was first introduced in 1853 under the Act 16 Vic., No.26. The administration of the function has been the responsibility of the following Groups and Agencies:
Date Agency Group/Minister Responsible
1853-1873 VA 2889 Registrar-General's VRG 16 Colonial Secretary
Department (to 1855)
VRG 26 Chief Secretary
1873-1893 VA 862 Office of the VRG 19 Law
Registrar-General and (to 1893)
the Office of Titles
1893-1983 VA 989 Office of Government VRG 26 Chief Secretary
Statist and Actuary (to 1979)
1983-ct VA 983 Registry of Births, VRG 69 Property and Services
Deaths and Marriages (from 1979 - 1991)
(1983-1986: Assistant VRG 19 Law
Government Statist, (1991 - ct)
Registration of Births,
Deaths and Marriages)
Census and Statistics
Originally the responsibility of the Statistics Branch within the Colonial Secretary's Office (VA 856), collection of statistics and periodic census-taking became the responsibility of the Registrar-General's Department (VA 2889) in 1854, was transferred to the Office of the Registrar-General and the Office of Titles (VA 862) in 1873 and then to the newly-formed Office of the Government Statist and Actuary (VA 989) in 1874. Ministerial responsibility for this agency has been exercised by the Colonial Secretary (VRG 16) to 1855, the Chief Secretary (VRG 26) between 1855 and 1869, the Attorney-General (VRG 19) between 1869 and 1874, the Chief Secretary (VRG 26) between 1874 and 1979, the Minister for Property and Services (VRG 69) between 1979 and 1983, and the Treasurer (VRG 23) since 1983. The functional responsibilities of the agency in relation to census and statistics have, since federation, largely been taken over by the Commonwealth, later Australian, Bureau of Census and Statistics.
From 1893 until 1983 the Office of the Government Statist and Actuary was also responsible for the registration of births, deaths and marriages.
Elections were held in Victoria from 1851 under the provisions of the Constitution Act (and subsequently of the Constitution Act Amendment Act) as well as a succession of laws relating specifically to elections until electoral matters were brought comprehensively into the Constitution Act Amendment Act 1890 (No.1675).
Until 1910, the position of Chief Electoral Inspector was established under the Purification of Rolls Act 1891 (No.1242), the statutory responsibilities for electoral matters were divided amongst the several electoral registrars (responsible for electoral rolls) and the returning officers (responsible for the conduct of elections). The Inspector had functions in relation to the electoral rolls only.
In 1910, the position of Chief Electoral Officer was established under the Electoral Act 1910 (No.2288) with general responsibility for the administration of electoral laws. The Chief Electoral Inspector and later the Chief Electoral Officer and the State Electoral Office appear to have operated in close connection with the Chief Secretary's Office until 1979 when the Chief Electoral Officer became part of the Property and Services portfolio (VRG 69). In January 1989 the Chief Electoral Officer or Electoral Commissioner achieved independent and Chief Administrator status and now (1993) reports directly to Parliament.
Compilation of Electoral Rolls
Initially, electoral rolls were compiled by Collectors of Electoral Lists and transmitted to the Clerks of the Courts of Petty Sessions which were established to act as "revision courts" for the lists (see 14 Vic., No.47 et seq.). Similar provisions were extended to the elections for both Houses after 1855 (19 Vic., No.12 et seq.). After 1863 (27 Vic., No.168 et seq.) compilation of the rolls was the responsibility of the electoral registrars. In 1868, separate provision was made for the compilation of rolls for the Legislative Council from lists of ratepayers drawn up by municipal clerks and transmitted to the electoral registrars.
With the establishment of the Chief Electoral Inspector and district electoral inspectors under the 1891 Act, provision was made for the centralisation of the rolls. Since 1924, the Assembly rolls have been maintained by the Commonwealth Electoral Office (see Victorian Yearbook 1972, p.91) under the Joint Rolls Agreement (1924 Act No.3331). Separate provision continued to be made for the Council rolls until they too came under the Agreement in 1952 (Act No.5465).
Conduct of Elections
The several returning officers are governed by the provisions of the electoral laws in the conduct of elections and have been, since the 1910 Act, under the general administration of the Chief Electoral Officer.
Provision was made in the 1851 Act for the appointment of a Disputed Returns Committee (1851-1855) of the Legislative Council to deal with disputes over election results. Separate Committees of Elections and Qualifications, comprising members of both the Council and the Assembly, were established by the Act of 1856.
The Committee of Elections and Qualifications for the Assembly was superseded by the Court of Disputed Returns (the Supreme Court) in 1934 (Act No.4278). The Committee in the Council continued until 1961 when the Court of Disputed Returns gained jurisdiction (Act No.6764).
Land Titles Registration
The transfer and registration of land titles, from 1862, under the newly introduced Torrens system was the responsibility of the following Groups and Agencies:
Date Agency Group/Minister Responsible
1863-1864 VA 2889 Registrar-General's VRG 26 Chief Secretary
1864-1866 VA 2926 Commissioner of VRG 19 Law
1866-1873 VA 2888 Office of Titles VRG 19 Law
1873-ct VA 862 Office of the VRG 19 Law
Registrar-General and (to 1985)
the Office of Titles VRG 69 Property and Services
VRG 19 Law
(from 1991 - ct)
For more information about the Torrens system, see VA 862.
Registration of Inquest Depositions
The registration of inquest findings was the responsibility of the Registrar-General's Department (VA 2889) between 1853 and 1873 and the Office of the Registrar-General and the Office of Titles (VA 862) until 1988 when responsibility for coronial records including inquest depositions was taken over by the State Coroner's Office (VA 2807). Ministerial responsibility was exercised by the Chief Secretary (VRG 26) to 1869, the Attorney-General (VRG 19) to 1985, the Minister of Property and Services (VRG 69) to 1988 and the Attorney-General (VRG 19) from 1988.
Under the provisions of the Justices of the Peace Acts and the Coroners Acts, coroners were required to forward depositions to the Crown Prosecutor. From 1853 and the proclamation of An Act for Registering Births Deaths and Marriages in the Colony of Victoria 16 Vic.,No.26, coroners were required to inform the Chief Registrar in the Registrar-General's Department (VA 2889) of the particulars of deaths and the findings of the jury or the opinion of the magistrate as to the cause of death in those cases where an inquest or magisterial inquiry was held.
In 1856, following correspondence between the Chief Registrar and the Attorney General concerning the obligations of coroners to provide information, the Attorney General advised the Chief Registrar that depositions in cases of inquests would, in future, be forwarded to that office as soon as it had been ascertained that they were no longer required for the administration of justice. (See register of legal opinions in the custody of VA 983 Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.)
The practice of forwarding inquest depositions to the Registrar-General continued until 1988. For more details about the function, see VRG 19 Law.
ABOLITION OF PORTFOLIO
Following extensive machinery of government changes in January 1991 the Minister and the Department of Property and Services were abolished. The following functions were transferred to the newly created Finance portfolio (VRG 100):
Accommodation and Asset Management functions:
lands, crown (government) - control and management of land assigned for government purposes or for sale or lease purposes;
buildings, government (management) - the management, maintenance and cleaning of accommodation occupied by government;
Survey and Mapping:
survey and mapping functions including survey coordination, cadastral(land ownership) and topographic mapping, maintenance of the Central Plan Register which records the status of all unalienated Crown land and VicImage - aerial photography, photographic, microfilm and reproduction services to government and the public.
Place Names Committee - reports to the Minister regarding place names - changes and spelling;
Commercial Services to the Government and Public:
supply of furniture, stores and equipment - including the State Supply Service and the State Tender Board (transferred to Treasurer in January 1992 and back to Finance in October 1992);
This function encompasses the development and provision of a comprehensive and co-ordinated electronic information network for quick access to data relating to any block of land in Victoria drawing on a variety of government agencies' records and information systems.
Landata was established to co-ordinate the land information records and systems of various government agencies and to develop a computerised land information system for Victoria to provide ready access to information on each block of land in the State. In October 1982 a project team began developing a five year corporate plan for Landata, in conjunction with key user agencies. Landata became a division of the Ministry for Planning and Environment in January 1984.
In March 1985, following machinery of government changes, Landata was transferred to the Department of Property and Services and grouped administratively with other major land information and land administration agencies within the Department, such as the Titles Office, the Division of Survey and Mapping and the Valuer-General's Office. Prior to this the Government Computing Service of the Department of Property and Services had provided the Landata Division with advice on technical specifications for computing equipment for the Landata system. In January 1991 this function was transferred to the Finance portfolio (VRG 100).
land valuations and the Office of the Valuer-General (VA 2322);
Government Employee Housing Authority (VA 1356) (transferred to Treasurer in January 1992 and back to Finance in October 1992);
government courier service (VA 1858) (subsequently transferred to the Treasurer (VRG 23) in January 1992);
Government Information Service - provision of government information to the public and the coordination of government information services (actually transferred to Finance in 1992 after the abolition of the Ethnic, Municipal and Community Affairs portfolio - see VRG 100 from 1991);
government computing service (VA 1857) (subsequently transferred to Treasurer in January 1992 and back to Finance in October 1992);
government printing (transferred to Treasurer in January 1992 and back to Finance in October 1992);
government advertising (transferred to Treasurer in January 1992);
government catering (transferred to Treasurer in January 1992);
Office of Geographic Data Coordination (transferred to Treasurer in January 1992 and back to Finance in October 1992);
government vehicle pool - car hire (transferred to Treasurer in January 1992 and back to Finance in October 1992);
VICFLEET - management of the government's vehicle fleet (subsequently transferred to Treasurer (VRG 23) in January 1992 and back to Finance in October 1992);
Vistel Ltd - government's telecommunications public company (transferred to Treasurer in January 1992 and back to Finance in October 1992).
The following functions were transferred to the Law portfolio (VRG) in January 1991:
Registrar-General, Land Titles Registration and the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
At this time responsibility for the Public Record Office (VA 683) was transferred to the Arts portfolio (VRG 61).
Location of Records
List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, sections 3.18.0 (Property and Services, Registrar-General and Office of Titles, Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Surveyor-General, Public Record Office, Government Printing Office, Government Computing Service, Victorian Government Motor Transport).
Minister of Property and Services 1978-1991