The role of the high court in federal arbitration during the great depression: Preserving a future for ‘reason and moral suasion’?
Between 1929 and 1933 the Australian federal system of conciliation and arbitration came under economic and political strain. This article reveals that arbitration proved to be an adaptable industrial relations framework for dealing with economic depression. While the monetary entitlements of workers were reduced, the legal instrumentality that conferred the wage cuts, the Arbitration Court, itself defied abolition and evolved to be a protective body. There was a subtle and previously unremarked interaction in the regulatory functions of the High Court, the Arbitration Court, and the Commonwealth Parliament characterised by the purposeful abstention of the High Court and Scullin Government and the activism of the Arbitration Court.