Controversial new public holiday

The confirmation of a new state wide public holiday has small businesses worried.

‘Grand Final Friday’ will be held the day before the AFL grand final on October 2 and will mean operating businesses will have to fork out public holiday penalties.

Member for Western Victoria Simon Ramsay said the Andrews Government was overlooking the economic impact the holiday would have on rural and regional small businesses, particularly in Western Victoria.

“Despite regional Victoria clearly demonstrating that the proposed holiday will come at a major financial cost to local businesses, and despite the Australian Industry Group forecasting a $700million cost to the Victorian economy, Premier Andrews shrugs off all that good advice and returns to his only defence that it was an election commitment,” he said.

“This is outrageous and totally indefensible”.

Businesses that choose to stay open could face a 150 per cent increase in wages, something that Abbey Kick, owner of Amber’s Hair Studio in Bacchus Marsh said would put unnecessary stress on her business.

“Because of higher rates I will be closing the shop, therefore having to work extended hours on the days before and after the public holiday in order to fit in my clients,” she said.

“I think it’s a bit unnecessary”.

Jacqui, owner of the Ballan café ‘Tin Plate’ said although she would be opening for four hours she was not happy about it.

“I can’t tell you how much I disagree, I can not afford the rates and I think all small businesses should close in protest,” she said.

“I’m opening for my customers that is the only reason”.

Moorabool Shire Mayor Cr Paul Tatchell said with rural Victoria already under enormous strain, the holiday was absolutely ridiculous.

“By impeding businesses it shows how disingenuous the Government is in terms of strengthening our community. It simply puts costs on businesses for no good reason and in some cases it will actually cost jobs,” he said.

“Some businesses in rural Victoria are on the edge due to poor economic status and management within both our state and country. How can we possibly keep a competitive edge when we keep putting economic hurdles in front of our businesses?”.

However Member for Buninyong Geoff Howard said there were no trading restrictions imposed on the new holiday.

“It’s up to each individual business whether they open or close to celebrate the day,” he said.

 

“At the moment, Victorians don’t receive a long weekend between June and Christmas, ‘Grand Final Friday’ falls in school holidays and is a perfect time for families to spend time together”.

Mr Howard said the holiday would also provide a great opportunity for people in regional areas to see the grand final parade, and others to escape to the country over the long weekend.

“[The holiday] will also provide a boost to regional tourism and hospitality, as well as an opportunity to celebrate an iconic event on Victoria’s major events calendar”.

The decision for ‘Grand Final Friday’ means Victoria now has 13 public holidays – the highest number in Australia.

First appeared in The Moorabool News, September 22 2015

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