Holden’s closure next week will mark the end of automotive manufacturing in Australia. (ABC News: Caroline Winter)
This time next week, workers at the Holden factory in Adelaide’s north will pack up their tools for the last time.
After announcing its closure four years ago, the carmaker will finally halt operations in Australia, marking the end of automotive manufacturing nationally.
The Elizabeth plant opened in 1963, with the first model fully built two years later.
Now, more than half a century later, hundreds of workers are preparing for their final week of employment and their future.
Quality manager Paul Smedley, who has been with Holden for 16 years, is one of the remaining 945 employees preparing to say goodbye to the plant, which at its peak built 780 cars a day.
Holden says its transition centre has helped most workers find work, go onto study, or retire. (ABC News: Caroline Winter)
“I think it’ll be tough, so I’m sure there’ll be some moments during that day that will pull at heartstrings,” Mr Smedley said.
“It was very early on I decided I wanted to be here to see the last car built.
“If I’d left earlier, it felt like the captain deserting the sinking ship, it just didn’t feel right to leave.”
A qualified engineer, Mr Smedley has a job to go to once Holden shuts, working on the air warfare destroyer program.
But not everyone is as lucky.
Emotional final week for long-time employees
The plant in Adelaide opened in 1963, with the first model fully built two years later. (ABC News: Caroline Winter)
Collectively, Heather Sinclair and her partner have been at Holden 44 years, and are moving to Queensland for a fresh start.
“We both wanted a change, we knew it was going to be tougher for people to get jobs here,” Ms Sinclair said.
“So the want to be in a warmer climate and the opportunities for jobs just outweighed it for us.
“Looking at all the houses going up for sale and everything there as well, because that’s what I’m doing too, you just see this whole change.”
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Ms Sinclair said the community in Elizabeth will not be the same once the factory closes its doors.
“The local area is where all the Holden employees go, you see the traffic drive in the same direction,” she said.
“I guess that’s the worry for the people in the northern suburbs about not having the employment here.”
After 19 years with Holden, 38-year-old married father-of-three Peter Allison is relocating his family to work for BHP in Muswellbrook in NSW.
“It’s been extremely tough, I grew up in Elizabeth and lived around this area my entire life,” he said.
“So moving out of this area, or even locally from Adelaide, has been a very, very tough decision.”
Around 800 employees have left the factory since 2013, and Holden says its transition centre has helped 83 per cent find work, go onto study, or retire.
Workers say the community in Elizabeth will not be the same once the factory closes. (ABC News: Caroline Winter)
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