According to a slightly confusing ABC News article , ACT Industrial Relations Minister, Andrew Barr, has announced that Melbourne Cup day will be a public holiday in the ACT. This is apparently a replacement for the Union Picnic day which was scrapped by the federal government.
I have no problem with the extra public holiday per se as I think our public holidays are too heavily consolidated in the December-April period as it is, but not even Melbourne gets the full day off for the Melbourne Cup…it’s a half-day holiday down there. Everywhere else in Australia the Melbourne Cup is an event in which people get to have a nice friendly fun afternoon with their work colleagues or whoever else happens to be nearby, and people are free to ignore the event if they so desire. Melbourne Cup day is a very special day on the work calendar, but work still gets done…the workplace might grind to a halt for three minutes and be slower than usual for about an hour, but it is still a productive day, and generally quite a happy day. It has its own culture which has built up over the years.
The only reason the public holiday works in Melbourne is because Flemington race course is in Melbourne. Admittedly other race courses around the country have celebrations and show the race on the big screen, but it doesn’t have the same atmosphere as Flemington.
Having a public holiday anywhere else in the country is only going to ruin the culture of a special day on the work calendar, a day which promotes work place bonding without the peculiar and strenuous training sessions in funny hotel conference rooms that some businesses seem to think help their employees. It will also make the day a lot less special for everyone as schools and many other things close on public holidays. Parents won’t have the opportunity to easily get together with friends as they will have to look after the kids, and those who have to work on the public holiday will be very unlikely to have many, if any, people to share the day with.
Well done Andrew Barr, you have destroyed the Melbourne Cup, I hope you’re pleased with yourself.
I do have to wonder how much Andrew Barr had to drink before providing the following quote to the ABC:
I don’t think that productivity on the first Tuesday in November tends to be fairly low and so I think of all the days in the calendar to be able to find a replacement day, this is the appropriate day.
So productivity on Melbourne Cup day is not low, but we need to write-off the day anyway?
Incidentally, in case you’re wondering, Cyclone Katy, during her time as the Industrial Relations Minister, added two public holidays to the 2005 post-Christmas period, and in doing so gave us all a lesson in the law in a press release :
“This year Christmas Day and New Years Day both fall on a Sunday,” Ms Gallagher said. “Under the Holidays Act, the public holiday for both days automatically moves to the following Monday. This would have meant that Christmas Day and New Years Day would not have been observed as public holidays for this year, along the same lines as last year where the two days fell on a Saturday.”
“I am authorised to declare additional public holidays under the Act, and the ACT Government has decided that given the current climate in which ACT workers have a real risk of losing their leave entitlements under the proposed federal industrial relations laws, and the special significance of these two days, they ought to be observed as public holidays,” Ms Gallagher said.
Cyclone Katy’s extra holidays were designed to bring us in line with our surrounding neighbour New South Wales:
These arrangements will ensure that the ACT is consistent with New South Wales and Victoria, which have also ensured that trading over these two days is treated consistently with public holidays.
But New South Wales works on Melbourne Cup day.
Andrew, when you first joined the legislative assembly and were instantly handed the education portfolio I thought you were just hired as a scapegoat for that failing portfolio…but today Andrew, you have proven yourself as a complete and utter incompetent fool.