Queensland may be hosting the AFL Grand Final this year, but Victorians will still get a public holiday.
The Victorian government has locked in the AFL Grand Final public holiday for October 23, 2020, but will re-imagine the holiday as a “thank you day” for frontline workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
The move has incensed business lobbyists, who had earlier derided the prospect of a public holiday for the Grand Final when the game was not even being hosted in the state.
Business groups have long been opposed to the Grand Final eve holiday, arguing it imposes unnecessary costs on companies, but Victoria’s new Small Business Minister Jaala Pulford said the day is “special” for the state.
“Grand Final eve is a special day on the Victorian calendar, and while it falls on a different day this year, this is a very real way of saying thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to fight the pandemic,” Pulford said in a statement.
“Confirming the public holiday also provides certainty for businesses so that they can make necessary plans.”
The holiday also won’t be a boon for Victorian businesses which usually relish Grand Final weekend trading in the inner city areas, with stage four coronavirus restrictions still in place across metropolitan Melbourne.
Earlier on Wednesday Tim Piper, Victorian head of the Australian Industry Group, said businesses are under enough pressure without the prospect of higher wage costs on October 23.
“Businesses are under huge financial pressure due to the lockdown of Melbourne and surrounds and any relief such as an end to this now inappropriate holiday would be welcome,” he said.
“The cost of this additional holiday has been previously estimated at $1.2 billion dollars, and such an impost would be another nail in the coffin for some businesses already half nailed shut.”