The role and functions of the museum are specified in Sections 6 and 7 of the Australian National Maritime Museum Act 1990.
Functions of the museum (Section 6)
- to exhibit, or make available for exhibition by others, in Australia or elsewhere, material included in the National Maritime Collection or maritime historical material that is otherwise in the possession of the museum
- to cooperate with other institutions (whether public or private) in exhibiting, or in making available for exhibition, such material
- to develop, preserve and maintain the National Maritime Collection
- to disseminate information relating to Australian maritime history and information relating to the museum and its functions
- to conduct, arrange for and assist research into matters relating to Australian maritime history
- to develop sponsorship, marketing and other commercial activities relating to the museum’s functions.
Powers of the museum (Section 7)
Subject to the Australian National Maritime Museum Act 1990, the museum has power to do all things necessary or convenient to be done for or in connection with the performance of its functions and, in particular, has power:
- to purchase, commission the creation of or take on hire, deposit or loan, maritime historical material
- to lend or hire out or otherwise deal with maritime historical material
- to recover, or to arrange for or assist in the recovery of, maritime historical material from the Australian marine environment and from other areas
- to dispose of, in accordance with section 10, material included in the National Maritime Collection and to dispose of maritime historical material that is otherwise in the possession of the museum
- from time to time as the occasion requires, to exhibit in Australia or elsewhere, material, whether in written form or in any other form and whether relating to Australia or to a foreign country
- to accept gifts, devises, bequests or assignments made to the museum, whether on trust or otherwise, and whether unconditionally or subject to a condition and, if a gift, devise, bequest or assignment is accepted by the museum on trust or subject to a condition, to act as trustee or to comply with the condition, as the case may be
- to acquire and operate vessels, whether in Australian waters or otherwise and whether or not the vessels are maritime historical material
- to collect, and make available (whether in writing or in any other form and whether by sale or otherwise), information relating to Australian maritime history
- to make available information relating to the museum and its functions
- to make available (whether by sale or otherwise) reproductions, replicas or other representations (whether in writing or in any other form) of maritime historical material
- to arrange for the manufacture and distribution (whether by sale or otherwise) of any article or thing bearing a mark, symbol or writing that is associated with the museum
- to enter into contracts
- to acquire, hold and dispose of real or personal property
- to erect buildings and structures and carry out works
- to take on leases of land or buildings and to grant leases and sub-leases of land or buildings
- to fix charges for entry onto any land or water, or into any building, structure or vessel, owned by, or under the control of the Museum, being charges that:
- are in addition to the charges fixed by the regulations; and
- relate to special exhibitions or other special events
- to purchase or take on hire, deposit or loan, and to dispose of or otherwise deal with, furnishings, equipment and other goods
- to raise money for the purposes of the museum by appropriate means, having regard to the proper performance of the functions of the museum
- to charge such fees and impose such charges (in addition to the charges fixed by regulations) as are reasonable in respect of services rendered by the museum
- to act on behalf of the Commonwealth or of an authority of the Commonwealth in the administration of a trust relating to maritime historical material or related matters; and
- to appoint agents and attorneys and act as an agent for other persons.
The museum may exercise its powers either alone or jointly with another person or other persons.
Role and functions of the Minister
The Minister responsible for the Australian National Maritime Museum during the reporting period was the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts.
Key ministerial powers under the Australian National Maritime Museum Act 1990 include the Minister’s ability to:
- transfer property, real or personal, held on lease or otherwise by the Commonwealth, to the museum for its use or for inclusion in the National Maritime Collection (Section 8)
- approve criteria and guidelines for the National Maritime Collection (Section 9)
- approve the disposal of material in the National Maritime Collection with value exceeding $20,000 (Section 10(4)(b))
- give direction to the Council with respect to the performance of the functions or the exercise of the powers of the museum (Section 14)
- appoint a member of the Council to act as chairperson of the Council or appoint an acting member of Council where there is a vacancy (Section 18)
- approve guidelines for the leave of absence to Council members (Section 19)
- convene a meeting of the Council at any time (Section 23)
- approve the Corporate and Annual Operational Plans and any variations (Sections 26–28)
- approve the Director engaging in paid employment outside the duties of the Director’s office (Section 32)
- approve leave of absence to the Director on such terms or conditions as she or he determines (Section 34)
- appoint a person (not a member of Council) to act as Director during a vacancy with such appointment not to exceed 12 months (Section 38)
- approve contracts exceeding $2,000,000 and leases exceeding 10 years duration (Section 7 of the ANMM Regulations).