Department of Civil Aviation (Australia)

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Department of Civil Aviation
Department of Civil Aviation 'Wings' Logo.jpg
Department overview
Formed24 November 1938[1]
Preceding Department
Dissolved30 November 1973[1]
Superseding agency
JurisdictionCommonwealth of Australia
Department executives

The Department of Civil Aviation (also called the DCA) was an Australian government department that existed between November 1938 and November 1973.


The Department of Civil Aviation had its origins as the Civil Aviation Branch of the Department of Defence, which was established on 28 March 1921, after Parliament passed the Air Navigation Act 1920 in December 1920.[2]

The organisation was reformed as a separate Government Department after the enquiry into the 1938 Kyeema Crash.[3] When created in 1938, the Department was organised into seven branches: Administration, Transport Services and Legislation, GroundOrganisation, Electrical Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering,Flying Operations and Accounts and Stores.[1] Arthur Brownlow Corbett was appointed Director-General of Civil Aviation in April 1939, serving until his retirement in August 1944.[3] From June 1946 to December 1955 the Director-General was Richard Williams, a former Royal Australian Air Force Chief of the Air Staff.[4] Donald George Anderson held the position of Director-General from January 1956 until September 1973.[5]

Fokker F.27 Friendship of the Australian DCA at Melbourne's Essendon Airport in 1970

On 30 November 1973 the DCA merged with the Department of Shipping and Transport and became the Department of Transport, Air Transport Group. The amalgamation was after the Second Whitlam Ministry agreed that this could achieve closer coordination of policies in the transport field and facilitate a more effective determination of the expenditure priorities and resources allocation.[6]

Structure and scope[edit]

The Department was an Australian Public Service department responsible to the Minister for Civil Aviation. The Department was headed by the Director-General.

Information about the department's functions and/or government funding allocation could be found in the Administrative Arrangements Orders, the annual Portfolio Budget Statements and in the Department's annual reports.

The Department dealt with matters relating to civil aviation and administered related legislation.[7]

List of ministers[edit]

# Name Party Start End Govt
1 Harold Thorby   Country 24 November 1938 26 April 1939 Lyons
2 James Fairbairn   United Australia 26 April 1939 13 August 1940 Menzies
3 Arthur Fadden   Country 14 August 1940 28 October 1940 Menzies
4 John McEwen   Country 28 October 1940 7 October 1941 Menzies
5 Arthur Drakeford   Labor 7 October 1941 19 December 1949 Curtin
6 Thomas White   Liberal 19 December 1949 11 May 1951 Menzies
7 Larry Anthony   Country 11 May 1951 9 July 1954 Menzies
8 Athol Townley   Liberal 9 July 1954 24 October 1956 Menzies
9 Shane Paltridge   Liberal 24 October 1956 10 June 1964 Menzies
10 Denham Henty   Liberal 10 June 1964 26 January 1966 Menzies
11 Reginald Swartz   Liberal 26 January 1966 12 November 1969 Holt
12 Bob Cotton   Liberal 12 November 1969 5 December 1972 Gorton
13 Gough Whitlam   Labor 5 December 1972 19 December 1972 Whitlam
14 Charles Jones   Labor 19 December 1972 30 November 1973 Whitlam


  1. ^ a b c CA 29: Department of Civil Aviation, Central Office, National Archives of Australia, retrieved 27 November 2013
  2. ^ Organisational Timeline of the Department, The Airways Museum & Civil Aviation Historical Society, archived from the original on 22 October 2012
  3. ^ a b Arthur Brownlow Corbett MBE (1877 - 1970), The Airways Museum & Civil Aviation Historical Society, archived from the original on 22 October 2012
  4. ^ Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams, KBE, CB, DSO (1890–1980), The Airways Museum & Civil Aviation Historical Society, archived from the original on 19 April 2012
  5. ^ Sir Donald George Anderson (1917–1975), The Airways Museum & Civil Aviation Historical Society, archived from the original on 22 October 2012
  6. ^ CA 1492: Department of Transport [III], Head Office/ (from 1975) Central Office, Canberra and Melbourne, National Archives of Australia, retrieved 18 June 2013
  7. ^ Administrative Arrangements Order made on 30 November 1939 (PDF), National Archives of Australia, 30 November 1939, p. 15, archived from the original (PDF) on 25 April 2013

References and further reading[edit]

See also[edit]