Being Minister for Home Affairs in the early years of federation meant doing everything that was based in the interior; the opposite of External Affairs if you like. The people who held this position were high in the ministry but stayed for only a year: Sir William Lyne, the anti-federationist NSW premier; Sir John Forrest the premier of one side of the country.
Lee Batchelor, Dugald Thomson, Littleton Groom, Thomas Ewing, John Keating, Hugh Mahon and George Fuller were crushed under the weight of their portfolio and quickly slammed the door behind them. They were expected to administer the Territories: ACT and Northern Territory in their spare time while handling transport and immigration, agriculture and industry, and so on.
Who could stay a goodly term in Home Affairs if not the well moniker-ed King O'Malley who didst endure three years of doing a bit of everything. Or telling other people to.
And returned to see out the first incarnation of Minister for Home Affairs. Joseph Cook and William Archibald returning to the single year pattern in between.
This was not the last of Home Affairs as portfolio, but, when Fred Bamford of the National Labor Party (in this, different to an earlier - and later - Australian Labor Party) took the keys, it was to Home and Territories, and would remain so from 1916 to 1929 when it slid on its slippers and resumed its former mantle. Still there were eight Ministers for Home and Territories during those thirteen years:
Arthur Blakely made it to Home Affairs 1929-32, during the Great Depression. The department was still known by this name when Archdale Parkhill took over but he became Minister for the Interior, and the name Home Affairs would not appear again for another forty five years.
Home Affairs (and the Environment)
Robert Ellicott revived the Home Affairs title in 1977. In 1981, the Environment was appended. There were another three coalition Ministers and one Labor minister who bore this title, before it was again returned to Home Affairs. The four after Ellicott were Michael MacKellar, Ian Wilson, Tom McVeigh and Barry Cohen.