When the clock strikes 6pm on Christmas Eve, an official public holiday will begin in Queensland, after contentious legislation passed in state parliament.
There was strong opposition to the proposal from business groups who argued a new public holiday would increase costs and force small businesses to close on the night.
Christmas Eve important for families
Queensland’s Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said Christmas Eve was important for families.
“It’s a very special time for family and friends as well as communities and churches to come together,” she said.
“Many Queenslanders do have to work Christmas Eve, and the change will ensure proper compensation for them.”
Queensland third state to introduce the public holiday
Queensland is the third state or territory to bring in a part-day public holiday on December 24, following South Australia and the Northern Territory.
The Courier-Mail had previously reported that popular surf clubs and RSLs were considering shutting their doors when the holiday kicked in, while analysis showed almost 100 small businesses were thinking about doing the same.
There were also concerns businesses would not have enough time to prepare ahead of the public holiday.
Ms Grace said:
“Making it a public holiday gives those who have to work, like essential services personnel, retail staff and shop employees, better pay for having to give up that family time.”
A sensible move
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan described the move as “sensible”.
“I think the Minister is spot on when she says that Christmas Eve is a special time for families,” he said.
“If a worker is going to miss out on this time with their family or friends or church, then they should be compensated for it.
“Business groups will always argue that public holidays and penalty rates costs jobs, but they can never provide any evidence to back up those claims.”
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