Kicking around a holiday switch
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.