ben moretti on Tue, 29 May 2001 13:28:19 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Public Electricity Production and Supply

The recent discussion of electicity production reminded me of an element of
South Australia's past. In the up to the 40's South Australia's electricity
was produced by a private company, which bought the attendant problems of
undersupply, cost and unwillingness to engage in infrastructure
development. This forced Premier of the time Tom Playford to effectivly
nationalise the company in the formation of the Electricity Trust of South
Australia. You can read more about this below.  The salient points to
remember from this, are that Playford was a conservative who was not afraid
to use public money in development and infrastructure, and that his
conservatice descendents have sold off the very same public electricity
generation he created. Fools.


Presiding over the transformation of a rural economy into a predominantly
industrial economy was genial and financially shrewd Thomas Playford,
Premier from 1938 until 1965. A persistent and persuasive bargainer with
Commonwealth prime ministers and industrialists, Playford put into practice
the policy of industrial development which had been conceived in broad
outline by J.W. Wainwright, E.W. Holden and others in the 1930s. Growing
world-wide prosperity in the 1950s meant that Australian politicians simply
had to ride the wave of inflowing capital and population.  Playford's
success was in capturing, for a period, a disproportionate share of
Australia's industrial growth and overseas immigration. He could point to
the advantages in South Australia of lower wage levels, cheaper land and
housing prices, and some lower State taxes than in New South Wales and
Victoria, and also, the State's record of good industrial relations.

Playford used three public utilities - the Housing Trust, the Electricity
Trust, and the Engineering and Water Supply Department - as the key
development agencies of the State to provide support, at modest cost, for
industrial growth. Social services, such as schools, hospitals and cultural
facilities, took second place in government spending until the economic
bases for wealth creation were firmly in place.

In 1950-51, of the 6800 new houses completed in the State the Housing Trust
built 3000, a record for the Trust since it was formed in 1937. In an
effort to cope with the inflow of people to South Australia, construction
methods were adopted which were then considered unorthodox. Such as the use
of brick veneer and prefabricated timber construction. By 1951, some 3800
prefabricated houses had been ordered from Britain and Germany for erection
mainly by migrant tradesmen.  

The development aims of the Playford Government required its control over
the generation and distribution of electric power. The Electricity Trust
was formed in 1946 to take over the assets of the Adelaide Electric Supply
Company, and in 1948 it was assigned control of the Leigh Creek coalfield.
The Trust undertook a vigorous programme of transmission line construction
in rural areas, replacing many small schemes based on diesel plants in
country towns. By the late 1950s, South Australian consumers were enjoying
the lowest priced electricity in the Commonwealth.

ben moretti

news and events in adelaide:

(*)/ (*)

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact: