The Contribution of Snowy Hydro Scheme in building a Multi Ethnic Australia

The expansion of the Snowy Hydro Scheme has been announced by the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that would commence within 14 days. It is almost 40 years that the expansion plan for the project has been announced that enabled thousands of immigrants all across the globe to travel to Australia for completing the project that built a vast network of dams.

This project was the largest scheme of Australia for public works and most of the workers involved in the project were immigrants who arrived in Australia after the Second World War.

Immigrants from more than 30 nations and in numbers more than 100, 000 people arrived in Australia’s southeastern mountains in New South Wales to work on the Snowy Hydro Scheme in the period 1949 – 1979 and approximately there were 7,000 on-site workers at any given point of time, as quoted by the SBS.

The workers born in Australia included those who were Yugoslav, Italian, Irish, Greek and German immigrants. The immigrant from Germany Arthur Baumhammer said that at that time highly skilled overseas immigrants were in much demand. Most of the generators for electricity for the project were from former U-boats in Germany that had never sailed on the sea, added Baumhammer.

However, the Australian workers neither could read the manuals for instruction nor knew how to operate them. Thus there was a huge demand for mechanics from Germany, elaborated Baumhammer.

The new immigrant communities that were formed in the course of completion of this project served as the foundation for building the future multicultural Australia. Post-war immigrants from Europe were unexpectedly united by this Snowy Hydro project.

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Anshul Singhal

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