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The postwar boom - 1945 to 1960 

 Detail of post-war family group photo
Click image for full size graphic

With the end of the war in 1945, most western societies experienced a period of unprecedented growth. Australia was no exception.

In 1948 the Prices Regulation Act was introduced to stop profiteering in the post-war reconstruction era.  It covered a vast array of products - animal bones, shoe repairs, matches - in fact just about everything. Although most controls were phased out in the 1950's, price control on bread and petrol continued in NSW until the 1980's and the Act itself still exists, with the Prices Commission replaced by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal.

Keeping up with the Jones’

Television played a significant role in the development of consumerism. New labour saving devices became much in demand. Advertising placed an emphasis on style and colour and promoted the image of ‘keeping up with the Jones’. Vance Packard, in his book The Waste Makers, called the period the ‘throw-away age’, where the object seemed to be profit and planned obsolescence.

Consumer developments during this period

Some of the major consumer developments in this era included:

  • 1948 Prices Regulation Act.
  • 1948 Landlord and Tenant (Amendment) Act - covered fair rents and the rights of owners and lessees.
  • 1954 Textile Products Labelling Act - covered the regulations for trade descriptions to be attached to a range of textiles giving the composition of the product.
  • 1956 Second-Hand Motor Dealers Act - provided for car dealers to be licensed and regulated their activities
  • 1957 Credit-Sale Agreements Act - covered the credit purchase of goods from retail outlets.

Go to The consumer movement - 1960 to 1970