Grand final eve public holiday here to stay

The State Government has announced it will keep the AFL parade public holiday for at least another two years, much to the dismay of Latrobe Valley small business owners.

Many local small businesses closed their doors for the controversial grand final eve holiday which fell on 2 October last year. 

Claudia’s Café was one of them.

Located in Morwell’s central business district, the majority of the café’s customers are employees at neighbouring businesses.

Owner Claudia Davies said her customers were not at work due to the public holiday.

“We closed because it was too quite around town. On a public holiday Morwell (CBD) isn’t really open,” Ms Davies said. 

The café’s staff are also mostly casual, with penalty rates also factoring into Ms Davies’ decision to close.

“Everyone lost a day’s pay and I lost a day’s trading as well,” Ms Davies said.

“I don’t really understand the holiday. It’d be different if it was on the day (of the grand final).” 

Café 3847 & Co. owner Cathy Theodore agreed.

Closing the doors to her Rosedale café early on last year’s holiday, Ms Theodore said small businesses were struggling to stay afloat without the addition of a new public holiday. 

“It’s the cost and the wages that really hurts the back pocket,” she said.

“It affects our business, it affected us last year. I had to close at night time and unfortunately I will have to do the same thing again this year.

“I hope there’s no more public holidays – I just don’t understand, not everyone follows the AFL.” 

Member for Morwell Russell Northe slammed the State Government’s decision to continue the holiday.

“The new holiday is for a parade in Melbourne, not a local event, so there isn’t an increase in patronage to help to cover the extra wages costs,” Mr Northe said.

“In fact, on my observation and feedback, towns in the Morwell electorate were very quiet on this day.

“Why should rural and regional businesses suffer for a parade 150 kilometres away in Melbourne?” 

The government has committed to the three day celebration until at least 2017, bringing the state total to 13 public holidays per year.

However, according to feedback gathered by Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing, businesses believed it was a good trading day.

“Russell Northe and everyone else who violently opposed the holiday will keep saying it’s a drain on businesses,” Ms Shing told The Express.

“However, there are things businesses can and should be doing to maximise their trading opportunities such as promoting they are opening and running big sales.

“We promised we would commit to this holiday and that is what we have done.”

Small Business Minister Philip Dalidakis said the holiday was created so “hardworking Victorians can spend more quality time with family, friends and loved ones”.