The Australian minimum wage [1906–2013]

Updated time

Last updated

21 August 2018

The minimum wage since 1906 in $2012

This is the base level of the federal minimum wage system in Aus $2012.

Sources: Columns 2 and 3 are derived from an FWC table of Commonwealth Arbitration Court decisions, National Wage Case decisions, Nolan and Cohen’s Federal Industrial Law, Third Edition by C.P.Mills, Butterworths and later editions, as well as the Commonwealth Arbitration Reports themselves, by the Hon. Reg Hamilton.  Column 3 is extracted from Labour Reports 1968, 1969, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1979 (ABS Cat No 6101.0), 1978-1995 Victorian Year Book, ABS Cat No.1300.2, National Wage Case Decisions, Metal Industry Award Decisions, 1995-2012 AMWU Research Centre Spreadsheet, Metal Industry Award decisions, Report of the Review of Veterans’ Entitlements (Clarke, Riding, Rosalky 2003), Table A12.2, p.759.  The information was compiled by J Rob Bray in ‘Reflections on the Evolution of the Minimum Wage in Australia: Options for the Future’, Research School of Economics, College of Business and Economics, the Australian National University, 2013, Appendix A, Series I and Series II.

Year Reference Amount per week $2012 Minimum Wage Series I
1906 (1906) 1 CAR at 27 £8-£34 per month  
1907 (1907) 1 CAR 62 24s. per 100 sheep shorn Nov - 279
1907 (1907) 1 CAR 122 £7/6s per day Nov - 279
1907 2 CAR at 1 £2.2.0  
1908 2 CAR at 55 £2.2.0 (42s.)  
1913 7 CAR at 58 £2.10.0 (42s.) Jun - 280
1914 8 CAR at 127 53s. per week Jun - 271
1915     Jun- 245
1916     Jun - 274
1917     Jun - 272
1918     Jun - 255
1919 13 CAR at 839 11s. 6d. per day (69s.) Jun - 235
1920     Jun - 226
1921 15 CAR at 829 £4.15s (95s.) Jun - 309
1922 16 CAR at 13 85s. per week  
1922 16 CAR at 262 77s. per week Jun 302
1922 16 CAR at 829 £4.10.0 (90s.)  
1923   From 1923 to 1953 most adjustments to the basic wage came from award clauses automatically applying quarterly variations in the Government index of retail prices to award rates, without a Court decision.  

In many years there are no Court decisions which reflect the latest level of the basic wage, unless a new award is made using the latest basic wage.  

There were however Court decisions in 1931, 1937, 1946, and 1950 which changed the basic wage separately to automatic indexation.
Feb, May, Aug, Nov 296, 295, 309, 319
1924 20 CAR 60 at 71 No general case, but indexation. Award £4.5s.6d. (85s.6d.) 4th Q Feb, May, Aug, Nov 311, 310, 309, 305
1925 23 CAR 85 at 89 No general case, but indexation. Award £4.6s.6d. (86s.6d.) Feb, May, Aug, Nov 307, 311, 315,315
1926 24 CAR 652 at 655 No general case, but indexation.  Award £4.10s.6d. (90s.6d.) (Syd) Feb, May, Aug, Nov 315, 318, 326, 319
1927 26 CAR 577 No general case, but indexation.  Award £4.7s.6d. (87s.6d.) (Vic) Feb, May, Aug, Nov 318, 318, 315,320
1928 27 CAR 176 at 182 No general case, but indexation.  Award £4.9s.6d. (89s.6d.) (3rd Quarter) Feb, May, Aug, Nov 324, 320, 320, 315
1929   No general case, but indexation. Feb, May, Aug, Nov 313, 324, 322, 326
1930   No general case, but indexation. Feb, May, Aug, Nov 329, 320, 320, 317
1931 30 CAR at 2 £3.1.1 (61s.1d.) (10% reduction) Feb, May, Aug, Nov279, 280, 280, 274
1932 31 CAR 305 at 323 No general case, but indexation.  Award £3.3.0 (63 s.) (SA) Feb, May, Aug, Nov 274, 280, 280, 279
1933 32 CAR 90 at 102, 108 £3.3.4 (63s.4d.) Feb, May, Aug, Nov 276, 290, 289, 287
1934 33 CAR 144 at 154 £3.5.0 (65s.) Feb, May, Jun, Sep, Dec 287, 290, 293, 292, 291
1935 34 CAR 209 at 221 No general case, but indexation. Award 11s.4d. per day (68s.) (2nd Quarter) Mar, Jun, Sep, Dec 290, 289, 288, 296
1936 36 CAR 736 at 751 No general case, but indexation.  Award £3.9s. (69s.) (3rd Quarter) Mar, Jun, Sep, Dec 295, 294, 291, 288
1937 37 CAR at 583, 595 £3.13.0 (73.s) Mar, Jun, Jul 293, 291, 303 Sep, Oct, Dec 301, 309, 312
1938 40 CAR 71 at 72 No general case, but indexation. Award (81s.) (Syd.) Mar, Jun, Sep, Dec 314, 312, 310, 312
1939 41 CAR 516 No general case, but indexation. Award £4.1s. (81s.) (Vic) Mar, Jun, Sep, Dec 310, 312, 309, 306
1940 44 CAR 41 General case, no change, indexation Feb, May, Aug, Nov 310, 308, 312, 313
1941 44 CAR at 41 £4.6.0 (86s.) Feb, May, Aug, Nov 316, 317, 313, 310
1942   No general case, but indexation. Feb, May, Aug, Nov 306, 307, 311, 314
1943   No general case, but indexation. Feb, May, Aug, Nov314, 311, 314, 312
1944   No general case, but indexation. Feb, May, Aug, Nov309, 310, 311, 311
1945 Judges in Industry, Mark Perlman, Melbourne University Press, p.192 No general case. 93s. Feb, May, Aug, Nov 311, 311, 311, 309
1946 57 CAR at 603 £5.0 (100s.) Feb, May, Aug, Nov, Dec 308, 310, 311, 308, 327
1947 Standard Hours and the Basic Wage, R.J.Cameron, (unpublished manuscript), p.108 No general case, but indexation. 142s. Feb, May, Aug, Nov 330, 327, 327, 325
1948   No general case, but indexation. Feb, May, Aug, Nov 320, 323, 321, 320
1949   No general case, but indexation. Feb, May, Aug, Nov 324, 320, 323, 319
1950 68 CAR at 696 £8.2.0 (162s.) Feb, May, Aug, Nov, Dec 324, 325, 319, 324, 356
1951   No general case, but indexation. Feb, May, Aug, Nov 372, 369, 375, 376
1952   No general case, but indexation. Feb, May, Aug, Nov 368, 368, 372, 372
1953 77 CAR at 477 £11.16.0 (236s.) Feb, May, Aug 369, 370, 370
1954   No general case, no indexation  
1955   No general case, no indexation  
1956 84 CAR 157 at 165, 168 £12.6.0 (246s.) Jun - 355
1957 87 CAR 437 at 443 £12.16.0 (256s.) May - 361
1958 89 CAR 284 at 299 £13.1.0 (261s.) May - 362
1959 91 CAR 680 at 692 £13.16.0 (276s.) Jun - 377
1960 94 CAR 313 at 321 £13.16.0 (276s.)  
1960 96 CAR at 572 £13.16.0 (276s.)  
1961 97 CAR 376 at 409, 411 £14.8.0 (288s.) Jul - 366
1962 No Case £14.8.0 (288s.)  
1963 No Case £14.8.0 (288s.)  
1964 106 CAR 629 at 650 £15.8.0 (308s.) Jun - 386
1965 110 CAR at 93 £15.8.0 (308s.)  
1966 115 CAR 93 at 123 £16.8.0 (328s.) Jul - 423
1967 118 CAR 655 at 661 $1.00  
1967 118 CAR at 219 Nil Jul 424
1967 121 CAR 454 at 463 various  
1968 124 CAR 463 at 467, 468 $1.35 Oct - 423
1969 129 CAR 617 at 619 3% Dec - 445
1970 135 CAR 244 at 247 6%  
1971     Jan - 466
5 May 1972 143 CAR at 290 $2.00 May - 473
15 December 1972 147 CAR at 172 Nil  
8 May 1973 149 CAR at 75 2% May - 529
2 May 1974 157 CAR 293 at 304 2% plus $2.50 May - 527
Year/Month Reference Amount Series I
1975 April 167 CAR 18, Print C2200 3.6%  
1975 Sept 171 CAR 79, Print C2700 3.5% 520, 527, 523
1975 Nov 172 CAR 279, Print C4736 Increase Refused  
1976 Feb 175 CAR 343, Print C4405 6.4% 527
1976 May 177 CAR 335, Print C5500 3.0% up to $125.00

$3.80 thereafter
542,559
1976 Aug 179 CAR 59, Print D0550 $2.50 up to $166.00

1.5% thereafter
559
1976 Nov 182 CAR 225, Print D1460 2.2% 557
1977 Mar 186 CAR 557, Print D2720 $5.70 544
1977 May 188 CAR 591, Print D3315 and D3315A 1.9% up to $200.00

$3.80 thereafter
554
1977 Aug 192 CAR 847, Print D4320 2.0% 553
1977 Nov 198 CAR 520, Print D5501 1.5% 537
1978 Feb 201 CAR 447, Print D6070 1.5% up to $170.00

$2.60 thereafter
546
1978 Mar 205 CAR 399, Print D7262 1.3% 534

End Series I

 

Year/Month Reference 

Incl print no.
Amount $2012 Minimum Wage

Series II
Min Wage
1978 Sep 211 CAR 268, Print D8400   Wage Fixing Principles Case 579  
1978 Sep 215 CAR 84, Print D8920   4.0% 589  
1979 June 223 CAR 729 E0267 & E0267A 3.2% 582590  
1980 Jan 232 CAR 12 E1681 4.5% 599  
1980 Mar 235 CAR 246 E2370 Decision No. 2    
1980 July 241 CAR 258 E3410 4.2% 593  
1981 Jan 250 CAR 79 E5000 3.7% 592  
1981 Apr 254 CAR 341 E6000B Wage Fixing Principles Case    
1981 May 255 CAR 652 E6300 3.6% 599  
1981 July 260 CAR 4 E7300 Indexation System Abandoned 632  
1982 May 274 CAR 473 E9700 Increase Refused 650  
1982 Dec 287 CAR 82 F1600 Wage Pause    
1983 Sep 291 CAR 3 F2900 4.3% 599  
1983/4 No increase, CPI  -0.2%, No National Wage Hearing    
1984 April 293 CAR 40 F5000 4.1% 612  
1985 April 297 CAR 7 F8100 2.6% 602  
1985 Nov 299 CAR 163 G0700 3.8% 596  
1986 June 301 CAR 611 G3600 2.3% 575  
1986 Dec 15 IR 395 G6400 Increase refused    
1987 Mar 17 IR 65 G6800 $10.00 + 4.00%[1] 556  
1987 Dec 20 IR 371 H0100 Increase refused 561  
1988 Feb 22 IR 461 H0900 $6.00 564  
1988 Aug 25 IR 170 H4000 3.0% + 10.0% [2] 550  
1989 Feb 27 IR 196 H8200 - 554  
1989 Aug 30 IR 81 H9100 3.0% + 3.0%[3] 559  
1990 MarApril       545551  
1991 Jan       535  
1991 April 36 IR 120 J7400 2.5% 550 See award
1991 Oct 39 IR 127 K0030 - 551  
1993 Oct 50 IR 285 K9700 -    
1993 Nov 51 IR 54 K9940 $8.00 547 See award
1994 Aug 55 IR 144 L4700 Review of Wage Fixing Principles

 

 

1994 Sep 56 IR 114 L5300 $8.00 537 See award
1995 Mar       537  
1995 Oct 61 IR 236 M5600 $8.00 536 See award
1997 April 71 IR 1 P1997 $10.00 538 $359.40

 

[1]  The 4% increase accessible under the 2nd tier.
[2]  These increases were to be spaced 6 months apart, and were accessible subject to a commitment to negotiations under structural efficiency principle.
[3]  These increases were to be spaced 6 months apart, and were accessible subject to the conclusion of an agreement under the structural efficiency principle.
Year ReferenceInc. Print No Amount Series II Minimum Wage
1998 April 79 IR 37 Q1998 $14.00 up to $550 pw$12.00 above $550 up to $700 pw$10 above $700 pw 560 $373.40
1999 April 87 IR 190 R1999 $12.00 up to & incl. $510 pw$10.00 above $510 pw 571 $385.40
2000 May 95 IR 64 S5000 $15.00 577 $400.40
2001 May 104 IR 314 PR002001 $13.00 up to & incl. $490 pw$15.00 above $490 up to $590 pw$17.00 above $590 pw 562 $413.40
2002 May 112 IR 411 PR002002 $18.00 570 $431.40
2003 May 121 IR 367 PR002003 $17.00 up to & incl. $731.80 pw$15.00 above $731.80 pw 572 $448.40
2004 May 129 IR 389 PR002004 $19.00 pw 585 $467.40
2005 June 142 IR 1   $17.00 pw 589 $484.40

Australian Fair Pay Commission General wage setting decisions

Year Month IR ref Amount Series II Minimum Wage
2006 October 157 IR 124 $27.36 pw up to $700 pw

$22.04 pw above $700 pw

Further $17 pw where no 2005 SNR incr. received before 27 March 2006 but had 2004 SNR or other SN adj. in prior 12 months
593 $511.86 pw
2007 July 164 IR 1 $10.26 pw up to $700 pw

$5.32 pw above $700 pw
594 $522.12 pw
2008 July 172 IR 119 $21.66 pw 589 $543.78 pw
2009 July 183 IR 1 No Change 587 $543.78 pw

Fair Work Commission Minimum Wage Panel

Year/Month ReferenceIR Ref / Print No & MNC Amount Awards and other instruments Series II Minimum Wage
2010 June 193 IR 380 PR062010[2010] FWAFB 4000 $26.00 pw (69c ph) increase, based on 38 hour weekModern Awards and Transitional instruments (including Div 2B enterprise awards, but NOT including Div 2B State Awards) 597 $569.90 pw

$15.00 ph

Casual loading for award-free employees: 21%

Increase does not apply to award/agreement free juniors and trainees
2011 June 203 IR 119 PR002011[2011] FWAFB 3400 3.4% increase – weekly wages rounded to the nearest 10 cents 596 $589.30 pw

$15.51 ph

($19.40 pw (51c ph) increase, based on 38 hour week)

Casual loading for award-free employees: 22%
2012 June   PR002012 [2012] FWAFB 5000 2.9% increase – weekly wages rounded to the nearest 10 cents 606 $606.40 pw

$15.96 ph

($17.10 pw (45c ph) increase, based on 38 hour week)

Casual loading for award-free employees: 23%
2013 June   PR002013 [2013] FWCFB 4000 2.6% increase – weekly wages rounded to the nearest 10 cents   $622.20 pw

$16.37 ph

($15.80 pw (41c ph) increase, based on 38 hour week)

Casual loading : 24%
2014 June [2014] FWCFB 3500 PR002014 3% increase – weekly wages rounded to the nearest 10 cents.   

$640.90 pw

$16.87 ph (50 cents per hour increase)

Based on a 38 hour week

Casual loading: 25%

2015 June [2015] FWCFB 3500 PR002015 2.5% increase – weekly wages rounded to the nearest 10 cents   $656.90 pw

$17.29 ph (42 cents per hour increase)

Based on 38 hour week

Casual loading: 25%
2016 June [2016] FWCB 3500 PR002016 2.4% increase – weekly wages rounded to the nearest 10 cents  

$672.70 pw

$17.70 ph (41 cents per hour increase)

Based on 38 hour week

Casual loading: 25%

2017 June [2018] FWCFB 3500 PR002017 3.3% increase – weekly wages rounded to the nearest 10 cents  

$694.90 pw

$18.29 ph (59 cents per hour increase)

Based on 38 hour week

Casual loading : 25%

2018 June [2018] FWCFB 3500 PR002018 3.5% increase – weekly wages rounded to the nearest 10 cents  

$719.20 pw

$18.93 ph (64 cents per hour increase)

Based on a 38 hour week

Casual loading: 25%