Kick­ing around a hol­i­day switch

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS - MATT JOHN­STON and ASH ARGOON

VIC­TO­RIA’S new­est public hol­i­day held on AFL grand fi­nal eve should be shifted to the Mon­day to re­duce its $1.2 bil­lion eco­nomic hit, a busi­ness group says.

Mov­ing the pop­u­lar day off, which is likely to be wel­comed by rev­ellers who en­joy ex­tended week­end cel­e­bra­tions, would help re­duce costs for na­tional com­pa­nies be­cause it would align Vic­to­ria with other states’ public hol­i­day sched­ules.

The Aus­tralian In­dus­try Group’s Vic­to­rian head, Tim Piper, said the State Gov­ern­ment’s hol­i­day was one “that an econ­omy with the high­est un­em­ploy­ment rate in Aus­tralia can­not af­ford” be­cause it smashed rev­enue and in­creased staff costs for busi­nesses that have to stay open.

But Mr Piper said if the Gov­ern­ment re­fused to can the day off, it should con­sider a com­pro­mise.

“We sug­gest, if the Gov­ern­ment is in­sis­tent on re­tain­ing the hol­i­day, that it could be moved to the Mon­day af­ter the grand fi­nal, rather than the Fri­day be­fore,” he said.

“Mem­bers have told us it’s an un­nec­es­sary ex­pense. At the very least we should be at­tempt­ing to har­monise with other states to re­move some of the bur­den on com­pa­nies.”

This year’s hol­i­day has been gazetted and will be on Septem­ber 29, the same day as the AFL’s grand fi­nal pa­rade.

In NSW, Queens­land, the ACT, and South Aus­tralia there is a public hol­i­day on the first Mon­day of Oc­to­ber.

Small Busi­ness Min­is­ter Philip Dal­i­dakis said he wel­comed the AIG’s “ac­cep­tance of the grand fi­nal public hol­i­day” but hold­ing it on a Mon­day would not be con­sid­ered.

“The hol­i­day helps create a great fam­ily at­mos­phere at the pa­rade and other CBD events and has been fan­tas­tic for our re­gional cities, whose ho­tels are full,” Mr Dal­i­dakis said.

But Op­po­si­tion Leader Matthew Guy, who is con­sid­er­ing whether to dump the hol­i­day if he wins the next elec­tion, said he was open to com­pro­mise.

Mr Guy said con­sul­ta­tion with many busi­nesses and the com­mu­nity had shown “rea­son­able sup­port for this op­tion”.

“The Lib­er­als and Na­tion­als will keep on talk­ing to busi­nesses and their as­so­ci­a­tions to see if chang­ing the hol­i­day date is the best way for­ward,” he said.

How­ever, Vic­to­rian Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Stone has slammed any po­lit­i­cal party con­sid­er­ing keep­ing the hol­i­day.

“Fri­day or Mon­day makes no dif­fer­ence, it will still cost up­ward of $1 bil­lion and I’m gob­s­macked any busi­ness group would sup­port it,” Mr Stone said.

“I can’t see any logic (chang­ing the day) be­cause a na­tional com­pany still has to pay peo­ple not to come to work.

“It’s very easy for a gov­ern­ment — or an Op­po­si­tion for that matter — to make de­ci­sions when they’re spend­ing other peo­ple’s money.”

The AFL has said it does not have a po­si­tion on when the grand fi­nal public hol­i­day should be held.

AFL Fans As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Gerry Ee­man said sup­port­ers wanted to keep the public hol­i­day on Fri­day.

“The feel­ing among fans is that hav­ing it on Fri­day helps build mo­men­tum to the grand fi­nal,” Mr Ee­man said.

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