Business urges dumping or moving of AFL public holiday

Businesses want Victoria’s Grand Final eve AFL public holiday dumped or moved to the Monday to bring it in line with holidays in other states.

The Victorian head of the Australian Industry Group, Tim Piper, says the Friday public holiday costs the state’s economy a “beyond reasonable” $1.2 billion every year.

“The most sensible decision by the government would be to remove the public holiday from 2018 and enable business to take back its important Friday trading day,” he said on Monday.

“If the government is insistent on retaining the holiday, it could be moved to the Monday after the Grand Final, rather than the Friday before. At the very least we should be attempting to harmonise with other states to remove some of the burden on companies.”

Queensland, NSW, the ACT and South Australia all have a public holiday on Monday 2 October to celebrate the Queen’s birthday (Qld) and Labour day (NSW, ACT and SA), which coincides with the day after the NRL Grand Final.

Piper said Friday was one of the more important days of the business week for many of his members.

But Small Business Minister Philip Dalidakis said the holiday creates a family atmosphere at the traditional grand final parade through the CBD.

“And (it) has been fantastic for our regional cities, whose hotels are full – it won’t be changed,” he said in a statement.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has also backed the move to Monday, but the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry believes the AFL public holiday should be dumped altogether.

“For us, Friday or Monday makes no difference, it will still cost upwards of $1 billion either way,” chamber chief Mark Stone told the Herald Sun.

The Andrews government introduced the grand final eve public holiday two years ago.

It coincides with the traditional parade of the two grand final teams and has already been gazetted this year for Friday 27 September.