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Mitsubishi's last 380 rolls off the line

End of an era: MMAL boss Robert McEniry.

Most Tonsley Park workers offered alternative jobs following innovative Job Expo

Mitsubishi logo28 Mar 2008

HALF of Mitsubishi Australia’s workforce walk out of the company’s Tonsley Park plant for the last time today with the gate closing behind them, but already there is no shortage of demand for their services.

Some 70 local and interstate companies attended an innovative two-night Job Expo in the company canteen two weeks ago and the result was the registration of 720 offers of position for the departing employees.

Ford Australia was one of the companies that attended the mini-motor show, along with Qantas and mining companies such as BHP Billiton.

So, while the last Mitsubishi 380 rolled off the line yesterday – ending more than 43 years of car manufacturing at the Adelaide site – there was not the mood of hopelessness often found at such events, just the sadness of ending something that meant a lot to the company and its people.

Of 1150 people employed by Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd, 530 finish today while a further 400 will leave over the next 12 months, leaving about 220 to operate what will become one of Australia’s leading full-line car importers.

There is less certainty about the future of the site itself, though, because, as MMAL spokesperson Lenore Fletcher explained, the company had not prepared a plan before deciding to close the plant on February 5.

The company is now “sounding out the market” and South Australian deputy premier Kevin Foley said yesterday that the government might be interested in developing the site.

 center imageMMAL president and chief executive officer Rob McEniry saw the last cars off the line yesterday and paid tribute to loyal employees.

“There is no doubt that today is a very solemn day, but it is also a celebration of the long and proud history of an exceptional manufacturing facility, and an exceptional group of people,” Mr McEniry told the assembled media and about 100 workers.

“Since my arrival at Mitsubishi, I have been deeply impressed and heartened by the tenacity, resilience and sheer determination of all our employees.

“My thanks, and the thanks of the entire Mitsubishi management team go to this wonderful group for their continued commitment.

“We have received unprecedented support from both the Australian and South Australian business communities, and local, state and federal bodies to assist our employees through this transition process.

“An amazing number of companies have come forward with offers of over 700 full-time, long term positions for our highly trained personnel.

“While this is a very sad and poignant day, everyone at Mitsubishi has focused on all the good times we have experienced and the absolute sense of family and community we have built here.”One of the plant’s longest-serving workers, Mario Bosio – who started building Chryslers there 38 years ago, a decade before Mitsubishi took over – also said it was a sad day.

“But I think it’s just one of those things,” said Mr Bosio. “The company just chose, probably, the wrong car at the wrong time.”Mr McEniry announced that the last four 380s built will benefit charitable organisations.

Two will be donated to charities – Vision Australia and the South Australian-based Royal Flying Doctor Service – and a third will go on permanent display at the National Motor Museum at Birdwood in the Adelaide Hills.

“The final Mitsubishi 380 sedan has been very keenly sought, with enquiries from all over Australia, so it was decided the only fair and equitable way to dispose of the vehicle was through our dealer auctions, to allow interested parties an opportunity to secure the vehicle,” said Mr McEniry.

“All proceeds from the auction will also be donated to charity.

“We believe these bequests, together with our five-year sponsorship of the Australian Olympic Committee, genuinely reflect the Mitsubishi family’s true sense of community and citizenship both nationally and in South Australia, and are closely aligned with our long-term commitment to the Australian market.”The Tonsley Park Plant was originally opened by Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies on October 2, 1964.

Following a change of ownership, the first Mitsubishi rolled off the production line in 1980 and since then the Tonsley Park plant has manufactured more than 1.1 million vehicles, including the Sigma, Colt, Magna and 380.

Mr McEniry said that Mitsubishi would maintain its head office in Adelaide.

He is confident of maintaining market share in Australia, despite the loss of the 380, noting that last year’s impressive 20 per cent sales increase came on the strength of Mitsubishi’s imported models.

Read more:

Official: Mitsubishi Oz to close its Adelaide factory

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