Department of Defence (1901–21)

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Department of Defence
Department overview
Formed1 January 1901[1]
Dissolved21 December 1921[1]
Superseding agency
JurisdictionCommonwealth of Australia
Department executives

The Department of Defence was an Australian government department that was established at Federation and existed until 1921 when it was replaced with the Department of Defence (II).


Information about the department's functions and/or government funding allocation could be found in the Administrative Arrangements Orders (AAOs).

In early AAOs, the department was responsible for Naval and Military defence and control of railway transport for defence.[1]


The Department was a Commonwealth Public Service department, staffed by officials who were responsible to the Minister for Defence.[1]

The Secretaries of the Department were Muirhead Collins (1901–1910), Samuel Pethebridge (1910–18) and Thomas Trumble (1918‑21).[1] Pethebridge was actually Acting in the Secretary role since 1906,[2] he died in 1918 while in office as permanent departmental Secretary.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e CA 6: Department of Defence [I] (Central Administration), National Archives of Australia, retrieved 23 March 2014
  2. ^ Mawer, Granville Allen (1988), "Pethebridge, Sir Samuel Augustus (1862–1918)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian National University, archived from the original on 15 May 2013
  3. ^ Casualty details: Pethebridge, Sir Samuel Augustus, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, archived from the original on 22 February 2014