A Ballarat small business owner has sent Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews a bill for more than $5000 for the amount he expects to lose as a result of this month’s Grand Final holiday.
It is the latest example of a small businesses coming out in opposition to the holiday, with a recent survey by the Australian Industry Group revealing almost three quarters of SMEs in Victoria could close if the holiday goes ahead.
Stefan Batstra, who runs the graphic and website design business 61 Design in Ballarat, told SmartCompany he became frustrated after calculating the loss of income, cost of wages and superannuation for closing on the new Victorian holiday would cost him $5371.
Batstra’s letter to the Premier outlines he calculates the cost is a “drop in the ocean compared to the $1.5 billion whack the economy is expected to take, but is certainly a significant financial cost to me”.
“Mr Andrews, you’ve been quoted as saying that your Labor Government is ‘putting people first.’ I would say that, in reality, the economic impact may in fact mean you’re putting people last through business shut-downs and potential job losses,” Batstra says in the letter.
“Thanks in advance for prompt payment of my bill. Our terms are seven days, but please feel free to contact me should you wish to organise a payment plan.”
Batstra has also started a social media campaign using the hashtag #letsbill Andrews, which he hopes other small businesses will get behind, while 61 Design’s website has been altered to include a picture depicting Andrews scratching his head while holding a bill.
Another Ballarat business owner, Adam Rasmussen, owner of Racers Bar and Café has backed the campaign on social media.
Batstra told SmartCompany this morning the additional public holiday is another blow to small business.
“I did the maths on what it would mean… it’s not something I felt comfortable with,” he says.
“I thought if the Premier thinks it is such a good idea, perhaps he’d like to pay my bill.”
Batstra says he isn’t against public holidays but doesn’t agree with this one, especially as a business in a regional area.
“It’s about highlighting it’s a public holiday we don’t need,” he says.
“It just comes down to being an unnecessary holiday. It’s a Melbourne-centric event, that’s my take on it.”
Batstra says since starting the campaign late last week he has received emails from business from Rosebud, Melbourne and Bendigo wanting to know more about it.
“I’m hoping businesses throughout Victoria will get on board,” he says.
Asked about the small business’ action on Friday, Premier Daniel Andrews said he had seen the bill but would not change his mind.
“I saw their invoice and they’re entitled to their view,” he said.
“But I’m not entitled to break commitments I made to the Victorian community.
“We don’t break our promises – we said there’d be a Grand Final Day holiday.”
Andrews said he was “very upbeat” about the holiday, which he said would see many Melburnians leave the city and visit regional Victoria.
Batstra says while he is yet to receive a personal response from the Premier he hoped it was taken seriously.
“He talks about putting people first, I would argue economic impacts might put business last,” he says.
“I would love the Premier to get back to me by email or phone, or catch up in Ballarat.”
“I think he’s brushing it off, he needs to think about this seriously.
“It’s not about breaking promises, a good leader can admit when they’re wrong.
“This is one which is going to cost him.”
*This article was updated at 12.56pm on September 21 to reflect comments made by Premier Daniel Andrews