In 1907, Justice Henry Bourne Higgins, President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court, set the first federally arbitrated wages standard in Australia.
Using the Sunshine Harvester Factory as a test case, Justice Higgins took the pioneering approach of hearing evidence from not only male workers but also their wives to determine what was a fair and reasonable wage for a working man to support a family of five.
Higgins’s ruling became the basis for setting Australia’s minimum wage standard for the next 70 years. This is a legacy to be proud of, but more importantly one we need to protect and build upon to create economic fairness and a labour systems that is just and reflects the dignity of every human being that makes it up.
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