I’m no fan of those who shine the seats of their pants on the government benches in Spring Street at the moment.
However, if there’s one thing more disappointing than Labor’s lacklustre performance, it’s the opposition attempting to make political mischief by targeting Victoria’s workers.
A case in point is Gippsland South Nationals MP Danny O’Brien’s claim in a recent edition of the Sentinel-Times that the Grand Final Friday and Easter Sunday public holidays will cost the state a billion dollars.
It’s a mysterious claim, one its supporters can’t offer a credible source for.
That’s because serious analysis of the cost/benefit presents a different picture.
Take for example the PricewatehouseCoopers impact analysis of the new public holidays which calculates their annual net ‘cost’ to Victoria will be $405 million.
This amount does not represent a reduction in economic activity across the state; it’s an estimate of the dollar figure transfer from profits and/or forgone business tax to the pockets of the state’s long suffering workers. It averages out at some $135 per Victorian employee or less than a typical supermarket spend.
Also, this estimate does not include the family and community benefits of the days off, which aren’t costed.
According to WorkSafe figures, workplace stress payouts in Victoria are now more than $270 million a year and rising. The benefits of time-off as a stress-reducer are well documented, so a couple of extra public holidays should be celebrated, not criticised.
They will not only leave employees free to sort out a weekend trip to the footy with the family, a spot of fishing or the chance to go to church on Easter Sunday, but will also help keep employer WorkSafe insurance premium rises down in the years to come.
And if a worker does need to work the public holidays, penalty rates will provide part compensation for working the unsociable hours.
The billion dollar cost claim is baloney, so please, Mr O’Brien, give the workers a break; cut the class warfare and look for another target when you’re seeking a few column inches of fame in Sentinel-Times.
Dave Lane, Harmers Haven.