Centenary 2004-05

Updated time

Last updated

01 May 2016

Overview of the AIRC centenary

The Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC), the Fair Work Commission's predecessor, celebrated its centenary in 2004–05 with a program of events designed to encourage public understanding of the tribunal's role and work.

Events included:

  • a national tour of the AIRC's Centenary Exhibition
  • the launch of A New Province for Law and Order, a book focusing on the history of the AIRC
  • a national conference looking at the history and future of the AIRC—presented by the Industrial Relations Society of Australia.

What are the key dates in the early history of the AIRC?

The AIRC was established as the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in 1904–05. Key events include:

9 & 15 Dec 1904 The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904, which establishes the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, is passed by the Australian Parliament (9 December) and receives Royal Assent (15 December).
26 Jan 1905 The first Industrial Registrar, Gordon Castle, is appointed and the principal Registry is established in Melbourne.
14 Feb 1905 The first President of the Court, Justice Richard O'Connor, receives his commission.
15 May 1905 The Merchant Services Guild of Australasia become the first industrial organisation to be registered under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904.
8 Nov 1905 Registries are established in NSW, QLD, SA, WA and TAS.
10 Nov 1905 The first hearing by the Court—the Railways Employees Association Appeal Case— is held at Darlinghurst Court House, NSW.

The Centenary Exhibition

Prepared by the Sir Richard Kirby Archives, the exhibition outlined the development of conciliation and arbitration over the 100 years following the establishment of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in 1904-05.

It featured a detailed timeline with information including appointments to the tribunal, summaries of significant cases, major legislative changes and key industrial and contemporary events.

The exhibition was in three parts—a six-metre long, double-sided physical display, an electronic display (accessed by a stand-alone computer) and a collection of framed photographs.

Find out more about the Centenary Exhibition.