Australia looks to fill the void of Holden's manufacturing shutdown

The closure of a single automotive assembly plant can be devastating on the local economy. But in Australia, they're dealing with what effectively amounts to the shutdown of its entire automotive sector. Mitsubishi closed its factory there a few years ago. Ford announced just months back that it would cease manufacturing in Australia, and now General Motors is following suit. That effectively leaves just Toyota manufacturing on any substantial scale in Australia, but who knows for how much longer.

The more immediate question is what will happen to the two plants (assembly in Adelaide and engines in Melbourne) that GM's Holden division will no longer need once it winds down production in 2017 – and the workers who count on them (and the surrounding suppliers) for their livelihood. It may still be three years off, but local officials aren't waiting around to see what will happen.

According to reports coming in from Oz, several other automakers have expressed interest in taking over the Adelaide assembly plant. The development wouldn't be unprecedented, as Mitsubishi took over Chrysler's manufacturing facilities in Australia in 1980 before itself shutting down in 2008. But there are also some prospects being discussed from associated industries, including armored vehicle manufacturing and LPG conversion.

In the interim, local and federal government bodies are earmarking hundreds of millions of Australian dollars (currently worth 89 cents on the US dollar) to help reinvigorate the manufacturing sector, as well as government works projects in the shipbuilding and train-line construction sectors that could create "tens of thousands" of jobs, according to South Australian premier Jay Weatherill.

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