Top politician criticizes plans for Australians to have a public holiday if the Matildas win the World Cup: ‘I don’t want to be captain spoilsport, but…’
Politics are divided on whether Australians should get a day off work in case the Matildas go all the way.
On Saturday, Sam Kerr and her teammates did what no Australian team, male or female, had ever done before: secure a place in the semi-final of the FIFA World Cup.
After defeating France on penalties 7-6 after an epic 120 minutes of play and the longest shootout in Cup history, the Matildas now focus on playing the Lionesses of England on Wednesday.
Australia is also one step closer to a commemorative public holiday, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese set to use Wednesday’s national cabinet meeting to discuss with prime ministers and chief ministers the possibility of a day off if the Matildas make it as far as the end.
But Nationals leader David Littleproud said that while he fully supports the Matildas, a public holiday would cost businesses too much.
Holding a public holiday if the Matildas (pictured after beating France) win the World Cup is hugely popular with Australians, but one politician is keen to put a stop to the idea.
Nationals leader David Littleproud says giving Australians the public holiday would leave the business sector to ‘foot the bill’
“I don’t want to be the killjoy captain on this, but I think business has a point here,” he told ABC’s Insiders.
‘It’s easy to call a national holiday when someone else is paying for it. I’m proud of the Matildas and all Australians are, and we’ll take it home… but I think we have to understand that someone has to foot the bill.
‘And companies are doing it vigorously. We live in a great nation, but we have to pay our bills and make sure the country keeps going.’
On Saturday, Albanese dismissed small business concerns about an “unprofitable” public holiday, arguing that such an event would be good for the economy.
Anthony Albanese (pictured supporting the Matildas at the World Cup) backed the holiday, dismissing concerns about its effect on the economy.
Pictured are fans celebrating the victory over France in Melbourne’s Federation Square on Saturday night. They will hope the Matildas can pull off another victory in the final on August 20, followed by a day off.
Australia’s Council of Small Business Organizations is particularly concerned, with chief executive Luke Achterstraat warning that a potential public holiday would come at the cost of already struggling small businesses.
“Holiday penalty rates of 250 percent — not 25 percent, but 250 percent — are a significant tax for small businesses that will need to reevaluate whether they even viably do business on the proposed holiday,” he said.
Before Saturday night’s game, Albanese said the same concerns had been raised before last year’s one-time public holiday after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
‘Some said that this was something that would cause economic disruption. What that did, of course, was lead to increased economic activity in a lot of businesses, particularly small businesses, and it actually benefited a whole range of those businesses,” Mr. Albanese said.
“These are decisions for state and territory governments, but the Matildas are inspiring an entire nation.”
The Matildas will play England on Wednesday night in Sydney, with the winner facing either Spain or Sweden in the grand final next Sunday.