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Churchward, Matthew
Foundries, Federation and Free Trade
Eleventh National Conference on Engineering Heritage: Federation Engineering a Nation; Proceedings
Institution of Engineers, Australia, Barton, Australian Capital Territory, 2001, pp. 43-55

This paper provides a case study of the impact of Federation on Victoria's engineering development during the decade and a half between 1901 and the First World War. During the 19th century Victoria had witnessed strong engineering growth based on a vigorous domestic demand for mining machinery, agricultural implements, manufacturing and transport equipment, building materials and supported by preferential government tendering and a protective import tariff. By 1890, Victoria had more foundries, implement makers and engineering workshops than any other Australian colony, and an engineering sector that employed 25% of the manufacturing workforce. After 1901, influences on engineering growth included the introduction of Commonwealth import tariff and patent legislation, the rise of 'new protectionism' and the freeing up of interstate trade creating a larger national market. Building on their existing industrial strength and reputation, Victoria engineering firms were able to build the largest interstate and export trade in machinery of any Australian state. The paper concludes by arguing that the momentum gained during the colonial period helped sustain strong growth in Victoria's engineering industries after 1901 and shaped much of Victoria's industrial development during the 20th century.

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