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By Jordan Thomas

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As the Labour Party gained influence in the nation’s parliaments there was an increasing movement to The hours were long, the conditions and pay were mostly poor. It required a lot of manual labour, mechanical harvesters were making life a little easier by the time of Federation in 1901. Shearers, in particular, had a difficult life. Their constant conflict with employers over working conditions had led to the creation of the Labour Party. Domestic service, working in a home as a servant, was an option for many in 1901.

Excavations were almost all done by hand with labourers wielding picks and shovels and removing the dirt in hand wheelbarrows. In heavy engineering jobs such as shipbuilding iron plates were bolted together using rivets. These rivets were heated in a fire then secured in place by a man with a large hammer. Burns and other injuries were commonplace. For a labourer, to be injured on the job was a disaster because all they had to offer was strength and fitness. Once that was gone they were out of work and a family faced disaster.

All stores closed on Sundays. By the time of Federation there was a growing movement to restrict shop opening hours. This was to improve the conditions for staff who were expected to work the whole time the shops were open. Local stores in the suburbs were usually butchers, grocers or fruit and vegetable suppliers. There was no such thing as supermarkets. Most food and other grocery items came from a corner store. Corner stores were generally family owned businesses that supplied groceries to order.

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