Queensland will classify the evening of 24 December as a public holiday from this year in a step to recognise the importance of Christmas Eve to families.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, and the minister for industrial relations, Grace Grace, in a statement said the six hours from 6pm onwards on Christmas Eve will be considered a public holiday under a bill introduced on Thursday to Palaszczuk’s majority Labor parliament.
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“The night before Christmas is as important to families as the day itself,” Palaszczuk said.
“It’s a very special time for family and friends as well as communities and churches to come together.
“Many Queenslanders though, do have to work Christmas Eve and the change would ensure proper compensation for them.”
The government estimated that the average hospitality worker would earn $146 more for working Christmas Eve, and cost up to $136.9 million in wages.
Grace added that the plan had garnered strong support, with 71 per cent of submissions received during the public consultation in favour.
“We received submissions from retail workers, bus drivers, mothers and religious leaders, just to name a few, who wrote of the ever-growing importance of Christmas Eve as a special time for family and friends to come together and celebrate the season and the need to properly compensate those who were required to work.
“The Palaszczuk government strongly agrees with them. The night before Christmas is as important to families as the day itself.”
Of the 29 per cent that opposed the public holiday, Australian Industry (Ai) Group presented a vocal case, describing the move as “costly and unfair” in a submission.
It said the part-public holiday would cost up to $410.7 million in employment costs alone.
“Taking from business to pay for politically popular measures is both costly and unfair and amounts to robbing Peter to pay Paul. This has never been a sensible approach to public policy.”
South Australia and the Northern Territory also consider 7pm - midnight on 24 December to be a public holiday.
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