In 2014 the conservative Australian Institute of Public Affairs called for the abolition of the minimum wage—at the time AU$16.87, the highest in the industrial world and twice that of the United States. The Australian minimum, enacted in Victoria in 1896, was the first in the world. Other nations copied it, and the International Labor Organization inscribed it as an international convention in 1928. Responding to calls for its abolition, University of Melbourne historian Marilyn Lake reminded Australians that the minimum wage was a “symbol of Australian values.” Envisioned as a “living wage, sufficient to meet the variety of needs of a person living in a civilized community … [it] recognized workers as human beings and equal citizens,” she wrote.
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