Has the Federal arbitration system been a facilitator, a barrier or irrelevant in the twentieth century growth record of Australia? To consider this question, the present review considers the role of wage setting institutions in the growth process. It then goes on to consider the contribution of the arbitration system to Australian economic performance. A number of criteria will be addressed, including inflation, unemployment, allocation of labour, productivity growth and responsiveness to economic shocks. The evidence is inconclusive in terms of a direct relationship between the wage setting decisions of the arbitration system and macroeconomic performance. Nevertheless, there are important institutional features of the arbitration system that are important in shaping the growth path of the Australian economy over the past century.