THE PORT PHILLIP DISTRICT OF NEW SOUTH WALES
AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE STATE OF VICTORIA

* * * ( Part 4 ) * * *

THE BORDER BETWEEN VICTORIA AND TASMANIA

I begin by acknowledging with gratitude the consent of Dr. Gary Moore to the publication of this article. The following is a layman's condensed version of a paper titled:- "The Boundary Between Tasmania and Victoria: Uncertainties and Their Possible Resolution"

Dr. Moore delivered the paper at the Regional Conference of the Institution of Surveyors, Victoria in Launceston on Saturday, 1 March 2014.

The address was published in the journal of the Institution in April 2014 ("Traverse" No. 294).

I note also that since compilation of my original draft additional information has been kindly provided by Dr. Moore and included.

Captain Arthur Phillip was commissioned in 1787 as Governor of New South Wales, in terms, using Dr. Moore's paraphrasing, to define the colony as "encompassing all of eastern Australia, from the top of Cape York to the bottom of Tasmania, and as far west as the 135th meridian of east longitude."

As we know other colonies or provinces were subsequently created from parts of New South Wales.

Van Diemen's Land, or Tasmania, became the first new separate colony in 1825 but no definition of the territorial extent was included in the Order in Council.

Governor Darling's commission to the first Governor of Van Diemen's Land defined Van Diemen's land as comprising all its islands and territories lying to the Southward of Wilson's Promontory in thirty-nine degrees and twelve minutes of latitude.

The latitude of 39 degrees and 12 minutes south cuts across Boundary Island in the Hogan Group about 6.5 km south of Wilson's Promontory. In the early 1840s a more precise determination of the southern extremity of Wilson's Promontory was established as 39 degrees 08 minutes and 18 seconds south.

In the first commission of Charles Fitzroy as governor of New South Wales in 1846 such state was referred to existing as far as latitude 40 degrees south. That latitude in fact cuts through both King and Flinders Islands.

Dr. Moore referred to various Acts of Parliament leading to the New South Wales Constitution Act of 1855 (current) adopting unchanged earlier legislation (assented to by Queen Victoria) relevantly providing that the southern boundary of New South Wales was at latitude 40 degrees south save and except the territories comprised in the Province of South Australia and the Colony of Victoria. The post federation New South Wales Constitution Act of 1902 adopted that same boundary.

Dr. Moore discussed further legislation and federal and state practices and offered Section 123 of the Commonwealth Constitution as a method of resolving the issue.

However he indicates the process as being particularly cumbersome and suggests judicial recognition of the boundary between Victoria and Tasmania at latitude 39 degrees 12 minutes.

He observes that latitude 39 degrees 12 minutes south, although not in accord with imperial prescriptions, has nonetheless been generally accepted in practice by all relevant Australian authorities.

As with the Victorian - South Australian border, Victoria seems to have reaped the benefit of an initial imprecise astronomical observation in locating the "southward boundary of Wilsons Promontory."

For example to quote Dr. Moore:- "By the operation of the Offshore Constitutional Settlement of 1979, as relevantly and presently implemented by the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (Cth) and the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1982 (Vic) (which of themselves do not change Victoria's territorial boundaries), Victoria is largely empowered to regulate minerals and energy exploitation of its coastline as far south as latitude 39 degrees 12 minutes south. It is understood that the Bass Strait oil and gas fields lie to the north of that latitude."

One would suppose by implication the general acceptance of latitude 39 degrees 12 minutes south, as the southern boundary of Victoria would place it as the northern boundary of Tasmania.

Under such circumstances one can assume:-

* The southern boundary of Victoria has a partial land boundary but

* This land boundary is shared with Tasmania not New South Wales.

Notes:

[1] This paper is drawn from material to be found in Dr. Moore's 2012 Ph.D thesis, which is entitled "State Limits: The Boundaries of Victoria and the Resolution of Boundary Uncertainties."

[2] Dr. Darling must have been a very busy man having been separately invested with a separate commission as Governor of New South Wales.

( Contributed by Kevin Bourne - PPPG Member No. 1351 )

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


List of Newsletter Articles  |  Back to Home Page