An important work of the Commonwealth parliament was the passing of a uniform tariff to supersede the six separate tariffs in force at the establishment of the Commonwealth, but many other important measures were considered Tariff. and some passed into law. During the first six years of federation there were five ministries; the tenure of office under the three-yearly system was naturally uncertain, and this uncertainty was reflected in the proposals of whatever ministry was in office. The great task of adjusting the financial business of the Commonwealth on a permanent basis was one of very great difficulty, as the apparent interests of the states and of the Commonwealth were opposed. Up till 1908 it had been generally assumed that the constitution required the treasurer of the Commonwealth to hand over to the states month by month whatever surplus funds remained in his hands. But in July 1908 a Surplus Revenue Act was passed which was based on a different interpretation of the constitution. Under this act the appropriation of these surplus funds to certain trust purposes in the Federal treasury is held to be equivalent to payment to the states. The money thus obtained was appropriated in part to naval defence and harbours, and in part to the provision of old age pensions under the Federal Old Age Pension Act of 1908. The act was strongly opposed by the government of Queensland, and the question was raised as to whether it was based on a true interpretation of the constitution. The chief external interest, however, of the new financial policy of the Commonwealth lay in its relation towards the empire as a whole. At the Imperial Conference in London in 1907 Mr Deakin, the Commonwealth premier, was the leading advocate of colonial preference with a view to imperial commercial union; and though no reciprocal arrangement was favoured by the Liberal cabinet, who temporarily spoke for the United Kingdom, the colonial representatives were all agreed in urging such a policy, and found the Opposition (the Unionist party) in England prepared to adopt it as part of Mr Chamberlain’s tariff reform movement. In spite of the official rebuff received from the mother-country, the Australian ministry, in drawing up the new Federal tariff, gave a substantial preference to British imports, and thus showed their willingness to go farther. (See the article British Empire.) (R. J. M.)
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per week for which such wages are payable, with the rates for overtime when those hours are exceeded. The determination is then gazetted, and it becomes operative over a specified area, which varies in different cases, on a date fixed by the board. Either party, or the minister for Labour, may refer a determination to the court of industrial appeals, and the court, in the event of a special board failing to make a determination, may itself be called upon to frame one. The general administration of the Factories and Shops Acts, to which the special boards owe their being, is vested in a chief inspector of factories, subject to the control of the minister of Labour in matters of policy. Before the end of 1906 fifty-two separate trades in Victoria had obtained special boards, by whose determinations their operations were controlled.
A similar system was introduced into South Australia South Australia. by an act passed in 1900 amending the Factory Act of 1894, which was the first legislation of the sort passed in that state.
In Queensland, where the earliest factory legislation dates from Queensland. 1896, keen parliamentary conflict raged round the proposal in 1907 to introduce the special boards system for fixing wages. More than one change of government occurred before the bill became law in April 1908.
In New South Wales, whose example was followed by Western Australia, the machinery adopted for fixing the statutory rate of wages was of a somewhat different type. The model followed in these two states was not Victoria but New Zealand, where an Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration New South Wales. Act was passed in 1894. A similar measure, under the guidance of the attorney-general, the Hon. B. R. Wise, was carried after much opposition in New South Wales in 1901, to remain in force till the 30th of June 1908. By it an arbitration court was instituted, consisting of a president and assessors representing the employers’ unions and the workers’ unions respectively; in any trade in which a dispute occurs, any union of workmen or employers registered under the act was given the right to bring the matter before the arbitration court, and if the court makes an award, an application may be made to it to make the award a “common rule,” which thereupon becomes binding over the trade affected, wherever the act applies. The award of the court is thus the equivalent of the determination of a special board in Victoria, and deals with the same questions, the most important of which are the minimum rates of wages and the number of working hours per week. The act contained stringent provisions forbidding strikes; but in this respect it failed to effect its purpose, several strikes occurring in the years following its enactment, in which there were direct refusals to obey awards.
In the years 1900 and 1902 acts were passed in Western Australia still more closely modelled on the New Zealand act than was the above-mentioned statute in New South Wales. Unlike the latter, they reproduced the institution of district Western Australia. conciliation boards in addition to the arbitration court; but these boards were a failure here as they were in New Zealand, and after 1903 they fell into disuse. In Western Australia, too, the act failed to prevent strikes taking place. In 1907 a serious strike occurred in the timber trade, attended by all the usual accompaniments, except actual disorder, of an industrial conflict.
In all this legislation one of the most hotly contested points was whether the arbitration court should be given power to lay it down that workers who were members of a trade union should be employed in preference to non-unionists. This power Federal Arbitration Act of 1904. was given to the tribunal in New South Wales, but was withheld in Western Australia. It was the same question that formed the chief subject of debate over the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which, after causing the defeat of more than one ministry, passed through the Commonwealth parliament in 1904. It was eventually compromised by giving the power, but only with safeguarding conditions, to the Federal arbitration court. This tribunal differs from similar courts in the states inasmuch as it consists of a single member, called the “president,” an officer appointed by the governor-general from among the justices of the High Court of Australia. The president has the power to appoint assessors to advise him on technical points; and considerable powers of devolution of authority for the purpose of inquiry and report are conferred upon the court, the main object of which is to secure settlement by conciliatory methods. The distinctive object of the Federal Act, as defined in the measure itself, is to provide machinery for dealing with industrial disputes extending beyond any one state, examples of which were furnished by the first two important cases submitted to the court—the one concerning the merchant marine of Australia, and the other the sheep shearers, both of which were heard in 1907. An additional duty was thrown on the Federal arbitration court by the Customs and Excise Tariff Acts of 1906, in which were embodied the principles known as the “New Protection.” By the Customs Act the duty was raised on imported agricultural implements, while as a safeguard to the consumer the maximum prices for the retail of the goods were fixed. In order to provide a similar protection for the artisans employed in the protected industries, an excise duty was imposed on the home-produced articles, which was to be remitted in favour of manufacturers who could show that they paid “fair and reasonable” wages, and complied with certain other conditions for the benefit of their workmen. The chief authority for determining whether these conditions are satisfied or not is the Federal arbitration court.
The same period that saw this legislation adopted was also marked by the establishment of old age pensions in the three eastern states, and also in the Commonwealth. By the Federal Act, passed in the session of 1908, a pension of ten shillings Old age pensions. a week was granted to persons of either sex over sixty-five years of age, or to persons over sixty who are incapacitated from earning a living. The Commonwealth legislation thus made provision for the aged poor in the three states which up to 1908 had not accepted the principle of old age pensions, and also for those who, owing to their having resided in more than one state, were debarred from receiving pension in any.
General Bibliography.—For Physical Geography: Barton, Australian Physiography (Brisbane, 1895); Wall, Physical Geography of Australia (Melbourne, 1883); Taylor, Geography of New South Wales (Sydney, 1898); Saville Kent, The Great Barrier Reef of Australia (London, 1893); A. Agassiz, Visit to the Barrier Reef (Cambridge, Mass., 1899); J. P. Thomson, The Physical Geography of Australia (Smithsonian Report, Washington, 1898); J. W. Gregory, The Dead Heart of Australia. For Flora: Maiden, Useful Native Plants of Australia (Sydney, 1889); Bentham and Mueller, Flora Australiensis (London, 1863-1878); Fitzgerald, Australian Orchids (Sydney, 1870-1890); Mueller, Census of Australian Plants (Melbourne, 1889). For Fauna: Forbes, “The Chatham Islands; their Relation to a former Southern Continent,” Geographical Journal, vol. ii. (1893); Hedley, “Surviving Refugees in Austral Lands of Ancient Antarctic Life,” Royal Society N.S. Wales, 1895; “The Relation of the Fauna and Flora of Australia to those of New Zealand,” Nat. Science (1893); Tenison-Woods, The Fish and Fisheries of New South Wales (Sydney, 1883); Ogilvy, Catalogue of Australian Mammals (Sydney, 1892); Aflalo, Natural History of Australia (London, 1896); Flower and Lydekker, Mammals, Living and Extinct (London, 1891); J. Douglas Ogilby, Catalogue of the Fishes of New South Wales, 4to (Sydney, 1886). For Statistics and Miscellanea: T. A. Coghlan, A Statistical Account of the Seven Colonies of Australasia, 8vo (Sydney, 1904); G. Collingridge, The Discovery of Australia (Sydney, 1895); W. Epps, The Land Systems of Australia, 8vo (London, 1894); Ernest Favenc, The History of Australasian Exploration, royal 8vo (Sydney, 1885); R. R. Garran,