Australia experienced rapid industrial growth in the years following the First World War. It also began to experience some of the problems associated with an urban, industrial society. “Men, money and markets” was the catch-cry of the era. The Depression of the 1930’s struck a devastating blow but by 1939 Australia was producing a range of products which a decade earlier had been imported.
During this period the motor vehicle, telephone, cinema and radio brought immense changes to Australian society. Advertising was becoming an effective method of selling and Australia was ripe for new American sales techniques. There was little control on the claims manufacturers could make in their ads, many of which were false and misleading.
Advertising encouraged the purchase of consumer goods and increased the popularity of hire purchase (money obtained from credit providers ie banks and finance companies for goods which were not owned until all the money was paid off). The familiar problems associated with hire purchase also grew - harsh contracts, extortion, inequality between the parties, and little or no variation in the contracts.
In an attempt to remedy these defects, the Hire-Purchase Agreements Act was passed in New South Wales in 1941. At the time it was considered to be one of the most comprehensive and effective measures of its sort in the world.
Developments in consumer protection continued despite the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.
Some of the major consumer developments in this era included:
Go to The post-war boom - 1945 to 1960