3. Perlman letters

Updated time

Last updated

08 July 2016

In 1951 Mark Perlman, at Columbia University in New York, published his doctoral thesis on industrial arbitration in Australia. In 1954, with additional work, the (now) Professor's book was published in Australia by Melbourne University Press as Judges in Industry: A Study of Labour Arbitration in Australia.

The Professor became a prominent labour economist, specialising in the history of labour economics, and continued to take an interest in Australian issues.

In 2004 he corresponded with then Chief Justice Michael Black AC QC of the Federal Court of Australia, and passed on a small selection of ‘slim pickings’ from his records. This included correspondence between himself and Justices Foster and Kelly, both of the then Arbitration Court, from the time he was writing his thesis. Chief Justice Black passed this correspondence to the Sir Richard Kirby Archives in early 2005.

The key letter from this donation is from Justice Foster to Professor Perlman in 1952, primarily regarding a 9 page letter from Chief Justice Kelly to the parties in a standard hours application. Judge Foster comments that the letter ‘produced violent repercussions and neither side was pleased’.