edgeland

Another archival image from the incompleted Port Adelaide  project.

The image of an edgeland is looking across an urbanscape that was routinely dismissed as swampland to the Adelaide hills from the Grand Trunkway. This  runs to Garden Island and the Torrens Power Station.  This  edgeland at Gillman was earmarked for a high tech industrial expansion around Port Adelaide that never really happened.

Edgeland, Port Adelaide

Edgeland, Port Adelaide

The degraded urban environment at Gilman was the chosen site for the proposed  Multi Function Polis (MFP)—a Japanese proposal for a futuristic high tech city—in the 1980s. Australia at the time had an inward looking and inefficient manufacturing sector, an over reliance on an uncertain commodity market and was seeking international investment to help modernise its economy.

 MFP Australia could be perceived as an extension of Japanese domestic development initiatives to target high tech industries with a Technopolis program to establish a series of high tech cities into the international arena with a new urban centre of 30,000 to 50,000 expected to be created near an established Australian city where urban infrastructure was available.
 The project  became a low priority in the recession of the early 1990s and Asian direct investment increasingly went to other Asian countries instead of to Australia. It eventually  fell over  in the 1990s after failing to attract the required international investment, and was   replaced by a state government body to promote urban development in  Adelaide based on a degraded urban site  being rehabilitated. What emerged was Mawson Lakes.

From an international perspective the MFP has failed to provide the base of high tech research, manufacturing and cultural exchange initially envisaged. Neither private firms nor central government invested on a scale to change Adelaide’s role in the urban hierarchy of Australia,  or the broader Pacific economy.

So ended the possibility in the 20th century of establishing a high technology manufacturing base for South Australia, and probably Australia.  In the meantime, Australia, with its neo-liberal  embrace of small state and free markets has managed virtually to wipe out its dated manufacturing sector rather than modernise it.

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