This year is the 110th anniversary of the landmark Harvester minimum wage decision by Justice Higgins in 1910.
The basic objective of Harvester was to set a fair and reasonable minimum wage that would provide a decent standard of living for workers and their families. The Harvester minimum wage for unskilled workers came to be regarded as the Australian living wage.
Harvester was commemorated and invoked by the Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations (ACCER) in its recent submission to the Fair Work Commission’s annual wage review.
ACCER’s submissions traced the influence of Justice Higgins and others on the legislation and decisions that enabled the setting of the living wage. ACCER’s submissions also drew on the assessments of former High Court judge Michael Kirby and former Prime Minister Bob Hawke regarding the influence that Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum had on the legislation and policies that resulted in the Harvester decision. Continue reading