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Australian PM insists nothing he could do on Toyota

Published on Feb 11, 2014 9:11 AM
Toyota Camry Hybrid car bodyshells on the assembly line at the Toyota plant in Melbourne in August 2009. Toyota said it would stop making cars in Australia in 2017. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (AFP) - Prime Minister Tony Abbott insisted on Tuesday there was nothing he could do to prevent Toyota halting car manufacturing in Australia as fears it will spark an economic crisis gather pace.

The Japanese giant on Monday said it would stop making cars in Australia in 2017, citing high production costs, a strong local dollar and a small domestic market in a decision that kills off the country's 66-year-old auto manufacturing industry.

It follows Mitsubishi shuttering plants five years ago, Ford halting production in 2016 and US giant General Motors announcing in December that its Holden offshoot would also cease local manufacturing by 2017.

The demise of the industry has sparked a political firefight with the Labor opposition blaming the government for not doing enough to prevent Toyota from walking away and unions warning 50,000 jobs could be lost down the supply chain, mostly in component manufacturing and transport.

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