National Geographic : 1970 Apr
"'d AHRM "I'- "J ) N..b Mod poster on the ceiling, mod styles on the rack, Alice's In Gear draws the mini skirted in fashion-conscious Adelaide. doctors, hotel managers, porters, taxi drivers, day laborers, miners, farmers-almost any thing you can think of. Large numbers of them find employment in Adelaide's big fac tories, like Chrysler Australia Ltd., where I spent an afternoon absorbing the step-by-step process of building an automobile. The manufacture of motor vehicles is South Australia's biggest industry. Besides Chrys ler, which employs 6,500 persons to produce 250 autos a day, General Motors-Holden's Proprietary Limited operates on an even 448 vaster scale; it has two mammoth plants in the Adelaide area turning out the Holden first car native to Australia (opposite). "Most of our employees," said the public relations officer at Chrysler, "are postwar migrants, New Australians-Italians, Ger mans, Greeks, Dutch, Poles, Slovaks, British, and so on." Here he paused, and I waited for the league-of-nations cliche I'd been hearing in this context for the past 20 years. But he simply added, "There's probably an Eskimo somewhere in the shop, too." Warm Welcome for Migrant Families The subject of New Australians came up in an interview I had with South Australia's Premier Steele Hall, who said, "Since World War II, more than 280,000 migrants from overseas have settled in South Australia-a significantly higher gain than for any of the other states in proportion to population. These migrants and their families are sharing in the state's development, and they are, as you have seen for yourself, helping to provide the work force needed for our increasing industrial activity." * Barely 41 years old, Mr. Hall is a tall, dark, likable, hard-working man with an easy going manner (page 474). He drew up a letter to introduce me to anyone anywhere in South Australia-a letter I never had to produce, South Australians being as they are. There was, for example, Sir Thomas Play ford, a former premier who had held the office from 1938 to 1965, longer than any other state leader. Genial, white-haired, and built like a halfback, Sir Thomas talked with me one afternoon in Parliament House. "For the first 30 years after federation in 1901," he said, "we were kicking against the wind with a flat football, always with the sun in our eyes. Not until 1933 did South Aus tralia, essentially a primary-producing state - sheep, cattle, grain, fruit-begin to look for secondary, or manufacturing, industries. Progress was slow; the country was emerging from the Great Depression. "We were just starting to move when World War II broke out," Sir Thomas continued. "Our factories-largely automotive-turned to manufacture of war materiel. "But after the war, the small-arms factories and others were converted to peacetime pur pose, and there was unprecedented industrial expansion. In fact, South Australia became *The author described the impact of immigration on Australia in the February 1956 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC.