Annual Report 2016-17

History

 

https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/documents/annual_reports/ar2017/fwc_annual_report_1617_part_2.pdf

Australia has had a national workplace relations tribunal for more than a century—it is one of the country's oldest institutions. Over time, the Tribunal has undergone many changes in jurisdiction, name, functions and structure. Throughout that history, the Commission and its predecessors have made many decisions that have affected the lives of working Australians and their employers. The Commission recognises the importance of capturing and preserving its history for display and research.

The Commission established the Sir Richard Kirby Archives in 2002 as a means of preserving its history. Named in honour of the longest serving President of the Commission, the archives contain a range of historical materials, including documents, photographs, and a collection of oral interviews with past Members and senior staff of the Commission. It is overseen by the National Archivist, Deputy President Hamilton, who also runs an exhibition program.

Historical Law Reports books, held in the Commission's Sir Richard Kirby Archives

in focus

harvester revisited

Farmers visiting the Sunshine Harvester Works, Sunshine, Victoria, circa 1910.

Image: Farmers visit the Sunshine Harvester Works, Sunshine, Victoria, circa 1910.

Commission staff member, Paul Guilfoyle, dressed as a witness in period costume, while giving evidence to a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission, in the historic Banco Court for Harvester revisited.

Image: Paul Guilfoyle, dressed as a witness in period costume, gives evidence to a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission in the historic Banco Court for Harvester revisited.

The year 2017 marks the 110th anniversary of the Harvester Judgment, a key decision leading to the introduction of Australia's first minimum wage in the 1920s.

On 15 May 2017, the Commission presented a mock hearing of the historic Harvester case, as part of Law Week Victoria.

The event sought to acknowledge the importance of the Harvester case, and to demonstrate how principles from that historic decision continue to influence the Commission today.

Held in the historic Banco Court at the Supreme Court of Victoria, the mock hearing featured historic witnesses and representatives, in period dress, appearing before a modern Full Bench of the Commission. The evidence given was based on the original transcript of the case.

The event was accompanied by a display of photographs and historical documents, including the 1907 transcript, and streamed live over the internet. A video of the event can be viewed at the Commission's YouTube page.

The mock hearing was fully booked within days of its announcement. Approximately 150 people attended the event and more people watched online. Audience members included current and former Federal Court and Supreme Court justices, law and industrial relations practitioners, academics, and students.

The Commission was honoured to have several former Members of the Commission in attendance—including a former President, Professor the Hon. Geoffrey Giudice AO, and two former deputy presidents, Emeritus Professor the Hon. Joe Isaac AO and Emeritus Professor the Hon. Keith Hancock AO—along with some direct descendants of Mr HV McKay, the inventor and manufacturer of the Sunshine Harvester.

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