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War Economy

More Stable Prices from 1955

More Stable Prices from 1955

As international tension eased after Korea, and supplies again started to improve, price controls were removed from an increasing range of items, and, in 1955, the Price Tribunal reversed its policy of listing the decontrolled items and commenced to issue a ‘positive list’ of items subject to price control.1 A warning was given that control on any item might be reimposed if it appeared page 538 that prices being charged for decontrolled goods exceeded reasonable levels. In accordance with this policy meat was again price-controlled for a time, commencing in 1960, but generally the policy of progressively removing further items from price control was continued.

From 1955, retail prices increased at the much more moderate average rate of a little over 2½ per cent a year until 1964.

Arbitration Court orders were still being made every year or two to adjust award, or minimum, wages. After 1955 award wages tended in general to keep pace with prices, but their purchasing power did not increase, except temporarily after an order had been made.

From 1961, the Court was required to take productivity into account among other criteria in fixing wages, and there was a small increase in real wages. However, the purchasing power of award wages in 1963 was still no higher than in 1955. Influenced by competition among employers for scarce labour, ruling wages had in general increased faster than award wages, and here wage earners were receiving part of the benefits of increased productivity.

1 1 Parliamentary Paper H–44, Report of the Department of Industries and Commerce, 1955, stated, at p. 49:

‘On 14 March, 1955, a “Positive List” comprising all items still subject to price fixation was published in the Gazette in accordance with powers provided in the Control of Prices Amendment Act 1953. The publication of the list marked the end of the former system of control, under which all goods and services except those specifically exempted were subject to price fixation. At the same time a large number of minor items, many of which had been subject to more or less nominal control only, was released from control. Some important goods were released from control at the same time, including carpets and some types of furniture, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, certain types of apparel, newspapers, and a number of services, including laundry and dry cleaning.’