Master Builders is Australia's oldest industry association. Founded in the early 1870s in Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle the movement quickly grew with Master Builders Associations being established in each state and territory of Australia.

Master Builders was federated on a national basis at the First Annual Conference in November 1890.

After some discussion, it was resolved that the name of the Association be The Federated Builders and Contractors’ Association of Australasia. Article 2 – Objects. The objects of this Association shall be to foster and protect the interests of builders, contractors, and all others concerned in the erection and construction of buildings and other public works; to promote mechanical and industrial interests, and to acquire, preserve, and disseminate valuable information connected with the building trades; to devise and suggest plans for the preservation of mechanical skill through a more complete and practical apprenticeship system, and to establish uniformity and harmony of action among builders throughout the country. The better to accomplish these objects, this Association shall encourage the establishment of Builders’ Associations throughout the Colonies, and shall aid them to organise upon some general system that will not conflict with local customs and interests, in order that through these filial Associations the resolutions and recommendations of this Federal Association may be promulgated and adopted in all its localities.

Extract from the minutes of the first meeting of the Federated Builders and Contractors' Association of Australasia, November 1890.

Master Builders Australia: Born 1890, still going strong in building the future

To celebrate 120 years of continuous existence — as much through depressions, wars and other tribulations as through periods of peace and prosperity — is to mark an achievement that few other employer bodies can equal. Formed in 1890, the Master Builders Association was the first national employer organisation in Australia — or the colonies, as we then were — anticipating the Federation of Australia by a decade, and demonstrating a prophetic insight that building the coming nation meant constructing the infrastructure on which its growth and prosperity would always depend, and at the same time creating the organisational structures that could transform dreams and aspirations into realities. We must thus acknowledge the remarkable foresight of that group of men, who appreciated that a strong national organisation of builders was necessary if the challenges of the future were to be met successfully.

The men who gathered in Sydney on those sultry November days 120 years ago were builders of residential housing and office buildings, and even at that time Australian cities were the envy of the world for their elegant urban dwellings, impressive office blocks and smart retail stores. With the Federation of Australia and the twentieth century, the scope of construction activity expanded rapidly, followed at a decent interval by matching changes in the structure of the industry. (Full article)

Extracts from the Past ...

1890 | 1891 | 18921894 | 1898 | 1900