By Michael Giles
HAVING made a whole bunch of promises before the last State Election, the Andrews Government feels duty bound to deliver on those promises, even if it kills us.
Two that come to mind are the promises “to reward hard-working Victorians by introducing annual public holidays for Easter Sunday and Grand Final Friday” and also the promise that rate increases should be capped to the CPI or around 2 per cent next year.
The fact is, no one asked for a public holiday on the day before the AFL Grand Final day, nor do many people want it.
The week leading up to the grand final was always a happy week to be at work anyway, with plenty of banter about the big game, especially on the day before (Friday) and talk of what your colleagues would be doing the next day.
And apart from those lucky enough to get a ticket to the game, it was very much a ‘stay at home’ day for most people or close enough to home so that if you want to have a drink while watching on TV with friends, it’s easy to get home afterwards.
Making it a holiday long weekend changes the whole dynamic of what was already a fun, happy, highly successful occasion, essentially enjoyed at home with friends.
Now we find out, according to an independent report by leading accountancy firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, that the economic cost of the two new holidays, including the one on Easter Sunday, will be between $717 million and $898 million in terms of costs and lost production.
The new grand final eve holiday accounts for the bulk of the costs with up to $852 million of the estimated impact.
“The new public holidays would also result in increased wage payments of between $252 million and $286 million annually to those people who work on public holidays. The amount represents a transfer from employers to employees, rather than a net impact on the Victorian economy,” the report says.
The two new holidays means Victoria leads Australia in terms of days off, reaching 13.
Countering those estimates of losses to business, Small Business Minister Gavin Jennings said last week he expected there to be a $51 million boost to tourism in regional Victoria, although he admitted there was no way to tell.
The point is, however, that if ‘it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’!
Most people like the build-up to the AFL Grand Final the way it is but if there is going to be a $900 million hit on business, surely there’s a better reason for it than simply harping on and on about delivering on an election promise.
Just admit it was an interesting idea that simply didn’t stack up.
The State Government is steadily working towards delivering on the promise to cap rates to the CPI next year and while the policy does have a nice ring to it, hardly any of 280 individuals and organisations who made submissions to the Essential Services Commission could see any practical merit in the idea.
In its submission to the rates review the Bass Coast Shire Council said this: “Council strongly supports the argument that Consumer Price Index (CPI) does not accurately reflect the price movements faced by local government… A further challenge for the simplistic CPI is that, on average, local government operational expenditure consists of 40% in staffing costs. Growth in these costs via enterprise negotiations has historically remained in excess of CPI, so rendering the CPI as an unrealistic measure”.
You’d have to say that raising staff wages by more than the CPI was also unrealistic too, surely!
Get rid of both ideas, Mr Andrews.