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A history of the minimum wage in Australia

March 13, 2016
1969 - Equal Pay rally at the Trades Hall, Carlton, Victoria.

1969 – Equal Pay rally at the Trades Hall, Carlton, Victoria.

There are many unique features about Australia but amongst them stands out our system of wage fixation. There is now a quite fascinating exhibition at Fair Work Australia in Melbourne on The History of the Minimum Wage which now has a history going back more than a century. Few economists have ever understood what every industrial officer in the middle of a strike has understood, that if you want the work done, you have to get the workers to do it. And you will only make the wages system work if it is seen as fair. To tell someone that fairness is shown by the equality of supply and demand has never convinced anyone yet. So we have the system we have and it has been with us since 1907.

The exhibition has been put together by my old comrade in fighting these wage increases, Reg Hamilton, now Deputy President of the Fair Work Commission. You can see the exhibit on the 7th floor of the Fair Work Commission in the Sir Richard Kirby Library at 11 Exhibition Street in Melbourne. If you get the chance, you should have a look.

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