I enjoy football season despite being deprived of success for some time as a Richmond supporter. However, the current State Government’s decision to declare the Friday before the grand final a public holiday for the grand final parade will hurt our business sector.
With the Government also declaring Easter Sunday a public holiday, Victoria is now the public holiday capital of Australia with 13 – more than any other state or territory.
While the Easter holiday will impose additional costs on businesses that open, there are also some solid reasons for the decision, as it is not like any other Sunday.
However, Labor should seriously consider the impacts of its Grand Final Eve public holiday decision.
Almost all industry groups, including Restaurants and Catering Australia and the Australian Industry Group have asked the Government to reconsider. Given the impacts, it is a fair request.
AIG Victorian director, Tim Piper, said in a recent newspaper article “This will cost us, whether in jobs or higher costs — how else are we going to get the money back?”
It is estimated the Grand Final Friday holiday cost between $800 million and $1.2 billion in lost productivity and increased business costs.
A number of Melbourne’s restaurants have already said they will be forced to close on that day due to the additional costs, but perhaps the biggest error is enforcing this on country businesses and communities who have little interest in the Grand Final Parade.
The National Party questioned the Small Business Minister in the Upper House last week, when my colleague, Damian Drum raised the matter on our behalf to the Minister in the Chamber.
The Minister was unable to provide any chambers of commerce or business associations in regional Victoria that were supportive of the public holiday.
He also confirmed that unlike the Melbourne Cup holiday where the Coalition made changes so regional shires can apply for substitute days, this will not be open for negotiation on Grand Final Friday.
The Minister has also previously not been able to answer the question of the cost impact of the new holidays on regional Victoria.
Following is the question time transcript:
Mr DRUM: My question is to the Minister for Small Business….can the minister name the chambers of commerce or business associations in regional Victoria that he has consulted with that are in support of the grand final eve public holiday?
Mr SOMYUREK (Minister for Small Business): I was not the shadow minister for small business, but what I can say is that there was a consultation, and it is called the general election.
Mr Drum: On a point of order, President, my question was extremely narrow in asking the minister whether he can name any chamber of commerce in regional Victoria or any business association that he has spoken to that is in support of this grand final eve public holiday.
Mr SOMYUREK: No.
Mr DRUM: I thank the minister for that answer. I want to know whether the minister has considered, as has been done for the Melbourne Cup holiday, allowing substitute public holidays for regional shires that have no connection to the grand final?
Mr SOMYUREK: That is not on the agenda at the moment. That is not what the commitment was about.
If this government is going to enforce an unnecessary city focussed public holiday upon us that will impact on our local businesses, it should at least have had the decency to provide some flexibility so country communities can align the day off with a local event like our Agricultural Show or a local festival.
March 30, 2015