Free for educational use
Year of production - 1913
Duration - 1min 32sec
Tags - Australian History, fair and reasonable wage, federation, parliament, working conditions, see all tags
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About the Video Cliptop
The Founding of Canberra 1901-1951 is an excerpt from the film Cavalcade of Australia 1901-1951 (34 mins), produced in 1951.
Cavalcade of Australia 1901-1951: Produced by the Australian National Film Board to celebrate the Jubilee of Federation, Cavalcade of Australia 1901-1951 provides an historical review of the development of the nation between 1901 and 1951. The film opens with the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V and Queen Mary) to Australia in 1901 to open the first Commonwealth Parliament. Through the use of historical footage, the film not only covers notable events in the Commonwealth story but also social development, fashions and economic growth over the period.
Cavalcade of Australia was produced by the Department of the Interior.
This topic provides a foundation for students’ study of Australia in the twentieth century. It offers an overview of the nature of pre-World War I society.
* What was life like in Australia at the turn of the century?
* How and why did Federation occur?
Throughout this topic, students work towards all outcomes, with particular focus on those listed below.
5.1 explains social, political and cultural developments and events and evaluates their impact on Australian life
5.5 identifies, comprehends and evaluates historical sources
5.8 locates, selects and organises relevant historical information from a number of sources, including ICT, to undertake historical inquiry
5.9 uses historical terms and concepts in appropriate contexts.
In 1907 Australia became the first nation to develop the concept of a minimum living wage. This was the result of the 'Harvester’ decision of Justice Higgins of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Higgins came up with the definition that a fair and reasonable wage was one that met 'the normal needs of the average employee, regarded as a human being living in a civilised community’.
In his judgement Justice Higgins wrote:
If A lets B have the use of his horses, on the terms that he give them fair and reasonable treatment, I have no doubt that it is B’s duty to give them proper food and water, and such shelter and rest as they need; and, in stipulating for fair and reasonable remuneration for the employees, means that the wages shall be sufficient to provide these things, and clothing, and a condition of frugal comfort estimated by current human standards. This, then, is the primary test, the test which I shall apply in ascertaining the minimum wage that can be treated as 'fair and reasonable’ in the case of unskilled labourers.
In 1913 the new Commonwealth Parliament accepted the site of Canberra, a sheep station in New South Wales, as the site of the new national capital. It was chosen because of rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney to be the capital, so it was accepted as a compromise between those two cities.
- What can be learnt about what life was like at the turn of the twentieth century in Australia by watching and listening to this clip?
- The selection of Canberra as the national capital represented a compromise between Melbourne and Sydney, and symbolises the compromises inherent in the whole federal system. Draw up a table with two columns, one headed ‘State powers’, the other ‘Commonwealth powers’. Use your knowledge of Federation and the Constitution of 1901 to add elements to each column. You may need to carry out some extra research. At the end prepare a short statement that reflects your conclusions about the nature of the Australian federal system of power. Who won out, and why?
- What images in the film clip support the notion that Australia still resembled a British colonial outpost in the early years of the twentieth century?
- Find out more about the decision made by the ‘new arbitration commission’ to give people a ‘living wage’ – the ‘Harvester Judgment’. Make up a summary of your findings that could be used on a poster to promote the schemes benefits to workers and their families.
- What other social legislation was introduced before 1914?
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