A severe economic downturn known as the Great Depression started in 1929 and continued until the late 1930s. The depression had a significant impact on the Australian economy, with certain regions experiencing unemployment rates as high as 32%. Prime Minister Joseph Lyons’ administration at the time responded to the crisis with a mix of economic policies and social welfare programmes.
By expanding public works investment, the government was able to stimulate the economy in one of the key ways. This included money for infrastructure initiatives like building roads and railroads, as well as giving local governments financial support for comparable initiatives. This was done in an effort to increase economic activity and create jobs.
A variety of protective tariffs were also put in place by the government in an effort to protect Australian industry from overseas rivalry. Although this was done to support Australian manufacturing and workers, it also led to increased consumer prices and less international trade.
Along with these economic measures, the government also put in place a number of social welfare programmes to assist those who were struggling due to the slump. This included raising financing for unemployment and pension benefits as well as implementing a basic wage that was meant to provide workers with a minimal quality of life. Additionally, the government launched a relief work programme that offered jobs to the unemployed and gave farmers financial help.
The Commonwealth Bank was a national bank established by the government with the goals of promoting economic growth and financial system stability.
Overall, the Australian government’s response to the Great Slump consisted of a mix of economic policies and social welfare programmes, all of which were intended to promote economic growth, safeguard domestic industries, and help individuals who were suffering as a result of the depression. Protectionism and a lack of foreign trade, however, exacerbated the situation and prolonged the crisis.