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Charles Atkinson, 'Treasury', 1833 (ALMFA, SLT)

In 1804, at the Derwent settlement, the main functions of a treasury were provided through the local office of the Commissariat of Stores and Provisions. Leonard Fosbrook, the head of the Commissariat and the local agent of the British Treasury, was also the new settlement's finance and procurement officer. Governor Macquarie appointed him treasurer of the Local Fund (the Police Fund of Van Diemen's Land) when it was created in 1810. In 1812 a position that combined the collection of customs, port fees and other revenue (the Naval Officer) with that of treasurer of the Local Fund was established in Hobart. A Colonial Treasurer's Department was formed twelve years later, with Jocelyn Thomas as Colonial Treasurer, Collector of Internal Revenue, and Inspector of Breweries and Distilleries. He was also ex officio a member of the Executive and Legislative Councils.

With responsible government in 1856, the Colonial Treasurer became a member of Cabinet, and the position of Assistant Colonial Treasurer was created (later Under-Treasurer, and now Secretary) as administrative head of the department that was the accounting centre for all government agencies. After federation the role of Treasury gradually expanded to encompass intergovernmental financial relations and economic policy advice, with the first professionally qualified economist, Ken Binns, being appointed to the staff in 1942. Following the devolution to line agencies of many of Treasury's traditional accounting and resource management functions during the 1990s, there has been increased emphasis on Treasury's role in co-ordinating and monitoring fiscal policy; developing and managing the state budget; providing leadership in financial management reform; monitoring the performance of government businesses; and advising on the economic development of Tasmania.

Further reading: J La Nauze, 'The collection of customs in Australia', Historical Studies 4, 1951; F Green (ed), A century of responsible government, Hobart, n.d; R Wettenhall, A guide to Tasmanian government administration, Hobart, 1968; W Townsley, The struggle for self government in Tasmania, Hobart, 1977; H Felton, From commissariat to treasury, Hobart, 2004.

Heather Felton