Harvester Case

Ex parte HV McKay (Harvester Case) (1907) 2 CAR 1 Higgins J, Judgment, 8 November 1907

Case summary

The case marks the origin of the concepts of a minimum wage and wages based on the economic needs of employees rather than a market for labour. In setting a basic wage of seven shillings a day, Justice Higgins decided that fair and reasonable pay for an unskilled labourer should be based on 'the normal needs of the average employee, regarded as a human being living in a civilised community'. The average employee referred to in the decision is a male worker supporting a wife and three children.

  • Go to the judgment.
  • Go to a biography of Justice Higgins.
  • Go to a speech by AIRC President Justice Giudice delivered to the Harvester Symposium, 8 Nov 2007.