April’s hol­i­days both good and bad

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Daryl Pass­more

AN UN­PRECE­DENTED run of pub­lic hol­i­days over the next month will put a smile on work­ers’ faces, but de­liver a $2 bil­lion blow to busi­ness.

Some of our cities and tourism cen­tres will re­sem­ble ghost towns as penalty rates make it un­vi­able for thou­sands of cafes, restau­rants and small shops to open their doors, frus­trat­ing lo­cals and vis­i­tors.

The Easter long week­end, An­zac Day and Labour Day mean four con­sec­u­tive four­day work­ing weeks, start­ing next week.

It is the first time it has oc­curred since 2006 and a law change by the State Gov­ern­ment mak­ing Easter Sun­day a pub­lic hol­i­day for the first time this year means six of­fi­cial days off over 18 days.

While it is a wel­come break for em­ploy­ees, busi­ness groups say the econ­omy will be left count­ing the cost, with small traders par­tic­u­larly brac­ing for a big hit to their bot­tom line.

Aus­tralian In­dus­try Group state di­rec­tor Jem­ina Dunn said re­peated clo­sures were the last thing needed by many reel­ing from the eco­nomic im­pact of Cy­clone Deb­bie and the flood­ing af­ter­math, or still clean­ing up and re­pair­ing.

Its pre­lim­i­nary es­ti­mates put the accumulated eco­nomic cost of the six hol­i­days at $2 bil­lion in lost sales and pro­duc­tion, de­layed or­ders, wages and penalty rates.

Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try Queens­land gen­eral man­ager ad­vo­cacy Kate Whit­tle said the new Easter Sun­day hol­i­day alone would de­liver an eco­nomic hit of nearly $60 mil­lion.

Many op­er­a­tors sim­ply could not face pay­ing staff rates of dou­ble time and a half for such an ex­tended pe­riod.

CCIQ es­ti­mates at least one in eight busi­nesses that would nor­mally open dur­ing Easter week­end will lock the doors for all four days this time.

Ryan Squires, owner of Bris­bane’s Esquire restau­rant, ex­pects Bris­bane to be quiet and plans to open only on the Satur­day of Easter week­end.

With penalty rates for wait and kitchen staff be­tween $70 and $110 an hour, he would look at lim­it­ing din­ner num­bers.

QUEENS­LAND’S plethora of pub­lic hol­i­days will de­liver a day trip­pers’ de­light, tourism lead­ers say.

“It’s ob­vi­ously good busi­ness for us and pro­vides an in­cen­tive for peo­ple to take a long week­end and go away,” Queens­land Tourism In­dus­try Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Daniel Gschwind said.

“But it’s also good for en­cour­ag­ing day trips, which are a sur­pris­ingly im­por­tant con­trib­u­tor to the sec­tor.

“It’s a big driver for des­ti­na­tions close to ma­jor pop­u­la­tion cen­tres such as south­east Queens­land.”

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