Ports Australia is the national voice of Australia’s ports sector

A bit of history

The following is an extract from an undated letter found in Ports Australia's archive files. It is addressed to Mr J. Jenkins, Dept Marine & Harbours, Fremantle WA on the 75th anniversary of the company which is now Ports Australia.

The First Interstate Harbor Conference was held in Melbourne at the offices of the Melbourne Harbor Trust Commissioners on 31 October to 3 November 1916, having been “…arranged with a view of arriving at uniformity in the systems of dealing with the various matters affecting Terminology, Rates and Charges, Wharves, Shipping - not so much in regard to uniformity in the amount of rates levied as in the method of making the charges - and administration and management of ports generally”.

This first meeting led to a regular series of meetings of harbour authorities, and ultimately to the founding of AAPMA.A list of attendees an a copy of the resolutions taken at the conference is attached. Representatives of all States except Queensland attended.

The Second Conference was held in Sydney on 39-31 March 1920, having been deferred from the previous year because of the influenza epidemic then raging throughout Australia. Queensland was represented at this meeting, and subsequently.

It was resolved at the Ninth Conference that the Port Authorities of Australia be formed into an Association, with an appropriate name and a constitution to be drawn up by the Permanent Committee.

At the same conference it was resolved that the setting up of a permanent office with a full time Secretary be investigated by the Permanent Committee be investigated and reported on at the next conference.

The Australian Port Authorities Association held its first conference in Adelaide on 25-29 October 1948. Neither a constitution (referred to the next conference) nor a full time office and Secretary were accepted, due to the offer of the Melbourne Harbour Trust to provide clerical assistance for the Association’s endeavours.

At the 12th conference in Perth on 23-27 October 1950 it was resolved that the Director of Navigation, Commonwealth of Australia, be appointed to the Permanent Committee.

A constitution was adopted at the 13th Conference in Melbourne on 28-30 November 1952.By the 23rd conference, 16-20 October 1972, the Association had changed its name to the Association of Australian Port and Marine Authorities, and the Permanent Committee replaced by a Council. The permanent Secretariat was established in Melbourne in 1972, the first Secretary being Mr R.Brokenshire (who retained the position until the Secretariat moved to Sydney in September 1987).

We're connecting the sector

Ports Australia regularly run working groups mixing Port professionals, government and industry to discuss emerging issues and best practice. The information discussed and presented at these forums is fed into the policy work that Ports Australia undertakes.

Every second year we host The Biennial Ports Australia Conference, a two day event for leaders in the Ports and maritime services space to meet and discuss issues impacting the sector. We also now host a Business and Operations Conference (on the off-year to the Biennial Conference) which unites professionals from different roles in Ports and maritime services.

Find out how we work with Australia's Ports

The Geelong port team after collecting waste

Ports Australia has begun engaging with our neighbours in the Pacific as part of our goal to better connect the sector. While we are focused on better connecting Australian ports and the broader transport sector that interacts with ports, we consider there are learnings that can be shared among Australia and Pacific ports that can improve trade, build skills, work on the sustainability of our region and support the development of global regulations that impact our region.


A number of ports from across the South Pacific have now joined as Ports Australia's International Members.

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We're advising government

We are the primary voice for the national Port sector to both elected parliamentary representatives and the government agencies sharing the responsibility of maritime matters. Through continuous conversations with government, we are able to inform and aid them on challenges facing the sector and nation.

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Delivering evidence to a federal committee.
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