Australia in the 1940s


The Holden


On 29 November 1948, prime minister Ben Chifley launched Australia's first mass-produced car, the FX Holden, which was manufactured by General Motors-Holden's at Fisherman's Bend in Melbourne.

General Motors-Holden's Ltd was a company formed in 1931 from a merger between General Motors (USA) and Holden's Motor Body Builders, which was founded in 1883 and specialised in saddles, coach-building and then building automobile bodies. The first fully Australian-made car was named in honour of Henry James Holden, the founder of the Holden company.

Prime minister Ben Chifley at the launch of the first Holden car at the Fishermens Bend plant, 1948


A snapshot of 1948

  • January
    • Employees working under the Federal Award System begin working a 40-hour week.

  • May
    • The Housing Commission in Melbourne holds its first ballot to allocate new homes for families of returned servicemen.

  • June
    • The federal government ends the rationing of meat and clothing.

  • August
    • The federal government's legislation to nationalise private banks is declared invalid by the High Court.

  • October
    • The first Australian Holden motor car comes off the assembly line and becomes a symbol of Australian prosperity.

  • December
    • Dr Herbert Vere Evatt (1894–1965), former minister for external affairs and attorney-general, is elected president of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

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