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The Great Depression In Australia

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The Great Depression

In Australia

History Essay

The Great Depression had a significant impact on Australia. The Great Depression affected Australia in a variety of ways these included unemployment, inability to support family, evictions, growth of shanty towns and impact on the economy. The Australian government responded to The Great Depression in a range of ways such as sustenance or susso for short, asking Sir Otto Niemeyer to come, deflation, Melbourne Agreement, inflation, Jack Lang's Plan and the Premiers' plan. Some responses were more effective than others.

An impact that the Great Depression had on Australia was large numbers of unemployed people. Companies all over the country started to collapse as their share value went down making the company go bankrupt. This meant that workers working for the company lost their jobs. The families that had lost there jobs had no money to pay there rent so faced getting evicted from there home. There small number of possessions was thrown out onto the street if they had been evicted. The homeless people usually went to makeshift settlements in public parks or on the outskirts of town. During 1933 there were over 40,000 people living in shanty towns. One well known shanty town was called Happy Valley in the sand hills of La Perous to the South of Sydney. Unemployment had a big impact on Australia during the Great Depression because at one point during the Depression there were 60,000 people unemployed. The response the Australian government had to the large numbers unemployment was the sustenance or susso for short. To be eligible for sustenance, a man had to enlist and prove that he had been unemployed for a curtain amount of time and that he had no mean of support. If you had sustenance you were not given cash but given basic food rations, mainly bread and potatoes. This response was effective because lots of families got food to live on and if they had not had the sustenance families would have died of hunger.

At the start of the Great Depression in 1929 the Prime Minister James Scullin of the Labor party asked advice from Sir Otto Niemeyer from the Bank of England. He came to Australia and advised a policy of deflation which meant balancing the budget, paying off debts. This advice was followed by Scullin and the state governments in August 1930 the Melbourne Agreement. By cutting wages, and paying loans back public spending was cut and unemployment increased. More businesses collapsed and the economy went deeper into depression. This deflationary policy helped Britain by paying Australia's debts back but was not successful in solving Australia's problems. Edward Theodore was Labor treasurer he suggested an inflationary policy which would print more money and increase government spending on public works to create more employment. However the Commonwealth bank refused to put more money into the economy. As a result the Labor party lost the election in December 1931. From 1930 to 1932 Jack Lang was Premier of New South Wales. He suggested spending money on social service, relief work and not paying loans back to banks until later. Lang was popular among the unemployed in New South Wales but others thought him an extremist. Lang was unpopular with the federal Labor government and the Bank of England and in the end he was dismissed as premier.

The Great Depression had other impacts on Australia such as the impact on the Australian economy. The basis of Australia's economy in the 1920's was based on three main factors;


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