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Economic development has been a focus of much government policy throughout Australia's history. This chapter examines some of the major aspects of public policy in Australia between the late 19th century and the immediate years following World War 2. It focuses on major policy decisions relating to international trade, labour, immigration, competition, rural production and management of the economy during wartime. During the second half of the 19th century, Australia yielded vast wealth from natural resources. There were large discoveries of minerals, most notably those of alluvial gold in Victoria from 1851 onwards, but also copper in South Australia and gold in other colonies, in particular Western Australia towards the end of the century. Customs and excise duties were to become almost the federal government's sole revenue source for the first 10 years of Federation, and a major source in the years leading to World War 2.
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