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About the Video Clip:

Video Clip Synopsis:
In 1913 the Basic Living Wage of 2 pounds 8 shillings a week is introduced. Politicians, including Billy Hughes, lay the Foundation Stone for the new National Capital in Canberra.

Duration:
1min 32sec

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.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: SOSE/HSIE
Year: 7-8
Strand: Time, change and continuity
Theme: Civic Work

Key Concepts

Compromise; Federalism; Fair and reasonable wage

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Studies of society and environment, Culture
NSW:7-10 History Stage 4 Topic 3
NT:Social systems and structures, Band 5: Soc5.2, 5+.2
Qld:1-10 Studies of society and environment, Culture and identity CI5.1
SA:Societies and culture 5.8, 5.9
Tas:Social responsibility — Understanding the past and creating preferred futures
Vic:7-10 History Level 4: SOHI 0401
WA:Society and Environment, Culture

Context / Background Information

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 places.

Discussion Pointers

  1. What does the video clip show?
  2. Look at the images of leaders. Who has power in this society?
  3. What is the role of women in this society?
  4. The film provides information about a ‘basic or minimum wage’ — what does this mean?

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. The basic wage was a way of helping to create a ‘fair and reasonable society’. Why would people want to do this?
  2. This decision was made by the new Australian Government system. It applied to all Australians equally wherever they lived and worked in Australia. Do you think this is a good system, or should different states be able to make their own laws just for their own areas?
  3. Research to find out what the minimum wage is for you as a part-time or casual worker today. Imagine that this minimum wage did not exist. Would that be a benefit or a disadvantage for you as a worker?

Modules That Use This Clip

SOSE/HSIE Year 9-10, SOSE/HSIE Year 11-12, SOSE/HSIE Year 7-8