The decision to declare an additional public holiday this Christmas will hurt hospitality businesses and force restaurants to reconsider trading, according to industry association Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA).
R&CA CEO John Hart said observing Sunday 25 December as a public holiday in addition to the observed public holiday on Tuesday 27 December will force businesses to close, reduce shifts, or trade at a loss.
“The Andrews Government is shooting from the hip when it comes to public holidays and it needs to stop. Just because the other states recognise the day does not mean Victoria needs to follow suit,” said Hart.
"Prohibitive labour costs will force businesses to close, reducing the opportunities to capture
increased tourism spend associated with this time of year. More significantly it will reduce the take home pay of staff who would have normally enjoyed longer shifts on these days.
“What would have once been a viable trading day for some operators may no longer stack up. Many operators have run out of time to assess the impact and inform staff and patrons of their decision.
“The Government should be looking at ways to encourage businesses to stay open for longer and employ more people, not make it more difficult to trade or even remain open. Its unfortunate common sense has not prevailed in this case."
Hart has urged the government to curb its enthusiasm for new public holidays and recognise the economic impact of its decision.
“Grand Final Friday and Easter Sunday already cost the state $900 million in lost productivity. Add the Christmas Day public holiday and this could easily stretch to $1 billion. Christmas Day cannot be gazetted as a public holiday as has been proposed. The impact will be catastrophic for the tourism and hospitality industry as well as state employment,” said Hart.