Organised Australian labour first demonstrated its power in the shearing industry just over 100 years ago. The system of arbitration developed over the last century continues to have a profound impact on agriculture. This article profiles the Australian rural labour market and identifies some continuing regulatory impediments to the proper functioning of the rural labour market. A brief review of the links between agriculture and other industries in Australia concludes that the greatest improvement in farm profitability from a better functioning labour market is to be had from productivity increases in industries outside the farm gate.


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