CHANGE THE DATE
Calls to move Grand Final holiday to ease $1.2b hit to state
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. email@example.com