The end of Elizabeth
“The motor industry in South Australia dominates the state’s economic scene.” Or so it says in a 1969 book, South Australia from The Air, published as part of the Australia and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (ANZAAS) conference held that year in Adelaide.
It was reported that over 17,000 South Australians were then directly employed by General Motors-Holden’s and Chrysler Australia, with another 8000 involved in supplying parts and accessories for vehicles. A further 8000 or so were employed in the repair of motor vehicles, many others in selling them.
According to the 1969 statistics… “of every 100 Australians engaged in vehicle assembly and manufacture, about 37 are employed in South Australia.”
This explains why South Australia is expected to feel the effects of the recently announced closures more than most other states.
In 1969, GM-H had two manufacturing plants in Adelaide, one at Woodville and another at Elizabeth, employing 5000 and 6000 workers respectively. Another 6,000 workers were employed south of the city at Chrysler’s main plant at Tonsley Park and its engine facility at Lonsdale.
Both Chrysler factories were taken over by Mitsubishi until it too left the scene in 2008.
The book includes an aerial photo of the massive GMH plant at Elizabeth. Built in 1958, by 1969 it covered an area of over 1.9 million square feet. This complex was often compared to an enclosed city with a suburb built around it.
What will happen to this site when GM-H shuts down local production, we wonder?