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Calls to move Grand Fi­nal hol­i­day to ease $1.2b hit to state

Herald Sun - - FRONT PAGE - MATT JOHN­STON AND ASH­LEY ARGOON

VIC­TO­RIA’S new­est public hol­i­day — AFL Grand Fi­nal eve — should be shifted to the Mon­day to re­duce its $1.2 bil­lion eco­nomic hit, a lead­ing busi­ness group says.

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

Vic­to­rian head of the Aus­tralian In­dus­try Group Tim Piper said the An­drews 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 had to stay open.

“This ex­pense is be­yond rea­son­able for a new public hol­i­day,” Mr Piper said.

But he 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.

The State Op­po­si­tion and Mel­bourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle have backed in­ves­ti­gat­ing the Mon­day public hol­i­day op­tion.

“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,” Mr Piper, whose group rep­re­sents more than 60,000 busi­nesses, said.

He said Fri­day was one of the more im­por­tant days of the busi­ness week for many of his mem­bers. This year’s hol­i­day has al­ready been gazetted and will be on Septem­ber 29 — the same day as the 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 wel­comed the Ai Group’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,” he said.

But Op­po­si­tion Leader Matthew Guy, who is con­sid­er­ing whether to dump the ex­pen­sive hol­i­day if he wins the next elec­tion, said he was open to the com­pro­mise. Mr Guy said con­sul­ta­tion with many busi­nesses and the com­mu­nity had shown “rea­son­able sup­port for this op­tion”.

Cr Doyle said while the day off was pop­u­lar, it was “worth look­ing at the Mon­day op­tion for city busi­ness and eco­nomic ben­e­fit rea­sons”.

But Vic­to­rian Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try chief Mark Stone has slammed any po­lit­i­cal party con­sid­er­ing keep­ing the hol­i­day “ir­re­spec­tive of what day it falls on”.

“For us, Fri­day or Mon­day makes no dif­fer­ence, it will still cost up­wards of $1 bil­lion ei­ther way,” he said. “I can’t see any logic (to 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.

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

“The Mon­day is start­ing to sound like a re­cov­ery day public hol­i­day,” he said. matthew.john­ston@news.com.au

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