Business groups have come out strongly against a plan to make Christmas Eve a part-public holiday in Queensland.
Under the proposal put forward by the State Government, a public holiday would be declared from 6pm on December 24.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says it would make sure workers get more time off or get paid fairly on what is one of the most important nights of the festive season.
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“The night before Christmas is as important to families as the day itself. It’s a very special time for family and friends as well as communities and churches to come together,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Many Queenslanders though, do have to work Christmas Eve and the change would ensure proper compensation for them.
But critics warn it will hurt businesses who can’t afford the extra impost and they will be forced to close instead.
National Retail Association CEO Dominique Lamb says the idea has come from nowhere and hasn’t been properly thought through.
“Small business retailers are already struggling at present and all this will do is see their wage bill explode further during a time of year that already contains numerous public holidays,” Ms Lamb said.
“There are numerous consequences that could flow from this, none of which are good. Small retailers may opt to pass on the extra costs via higher prices that hurt consumers or some may decide to simply not open due to it being uneconomical.
“The retailers who will be hurt most by this are not large multi-nationals, but mum-and-dad small business owners who work ridiculous hours just to make ends meet. These small retail outlets also rely on the Christmas trade period to support their operation during more lean times of the year.”
Ms Lamb is also sceptical of the public consultation period, claiming the Government has already ‘nailed their colours to the mast.’
The Australian Industry Group has also slammed the proposal and has called on the Government to abandon it.
“The idea would impose unwarranted additional costs on businesses in numerous industries that need to operate on Christmas Eve,” Australian Industry Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox said.
“Many businesses in the manufacturing, health, transport, aviation, emergency services, energy, telecommunications and numerous other industries need to operate on a 24 hour / 7 day a week basis due to the nature of their operations. The proposed public holiday will make the businesses less competitive with interstate and overseas firms.
“The Government’s reported argument that cafes will be able recoup the cost by charging a public holiday surcharge, fails to recognise that most of the businesses that will be impacted are not cafes. Also, many cafes and restaurants are struggling to survive and the imposition of unnecessary additional costs is not in anyone’s interests.
The public consultation runs until September 2.