The tribunal was first established in 1904 as the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. Its first President, Justice Richard O'Connor, was a judge of the High Court of Australia.
The Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) was established in 1988 and will cease operation on 31 December 2009.
The national tribunal Fair Work Australia has assumed many of the functions of the AIRC.
For further information about the history of the AIRC and its predecessors go to the Kirby Archives website.