ADELAIDE’S GOLDEN AGE began when the Beatles flew into town on 12 June 1964, electrifying the citizenry out of their country–town torpor into a screaming mass on the streets. It ended when a dressing-gowned Don Dunstan resigned office on 15 February 1979, the last day of the most exciting state government Australia has ever seen. I spent most of that period in South Australia’s excellent state education system, basking in the glow of a premier who seemingly made the earth move and stars pan gloriously across the heavens in a small city that, for once in its life, felt like the very centre of the universe. No joke.
In the ‘infant industry’ era of the 1950s and 1960s, South Australia had its economic development policy down pat: subsidise big manufacturers to set up shop, and support them with state-funded infrastructure. A continuous flow of ‘ten-pound Poms’ arrived to fill the production lines. Cherry farmer and conservative Premier Tom Playford brought – and sometimes outright bought – industrial development that otherwise had no business being in a place as beautiful and isolated, and economically irrelevant to the rest of Australia, as Adelaide.
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