Queen’s public holiday ‘a headache’ for business, doctors

Businesses concerned about holiday to mourn Queen

Industry groups and doctors have criticised the timing of next week’s public holiday to mourn the Queen, saying it will cause issues across the country.

The Australian Medical Association said it expected chaos due to the national day of mourning.

The one-off public holiday on September 22 will include a national memorial service at Parliament House.

But AMA president Professor Steve Robson said the unscheduled day off would be difficult for those with appointments and on waiting lists for elective surgeries.

“Operations and lots of patient consultations booked that day, at a time when access is difficult,” he said in a tweet following the announcement over the weekend.

“Thanks for dropping this at short notice.”

“An unanticipated public holiday will make it very difficult to staff hospitals and clinics.”

The Australian Retailers Association has urged states and territories to clarify trading conditions for next Thursday’s holiday.

“This event will create some complications for businesses with store closures and staff scheduling challenges,” ARA boss Paul Zahra said.

Many work rosters were done weeks in advance, he said.

“There will also be a small but unexpected loss of trade, and additional staffing costs, which may impact cashflows for small businesses.”

In Victoria, the day of mourning will be followed by another public holiday ahead of the AFL grand final – giving a four-day weekend for millions. There has already been an uptick in holiday bookings ahead of the unexpected long break.

“The phone’s certainly been ringing,” Bruce Flack from Apollo Bay Holiday Park on the Great Ocean Road told the ABC.

“We were probably 75 per cent full prior to the announcement. It certainly will have an impact.”

But he was also concerned about the pressure on businesses, particularly with a shortage of workers.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the public holiday would be like others in terms of services being open and penalty rates for businesses, but would give the opportunity for events to be held across the country.

“[The Queen] was someone who didn’t just go to Sydney and Melbourne. She went to regional communities, remote communities and had an engagement with them,” he said.

“That’s why, I think, it’s appropriate that local communities organise commemorative events as well as the national memorial service.”

Mr Albanese said the public holiday would be a unifying moment.

“Tradition, I know, can sometimes be inconvenient,” he said.

“But traditions are important. Traditions and protocols are one of the things that bind us together, and I do think the 22nd of September can be a moment that brings our nation together.”

One-off public holiday for Queen's death

New dates for federal parliament

Federal parliament will resume later this month to allow MPs and senators to speak on a condolence motion for the late Queen.

Parliament was due to sit this week but was suspended following the death of the monarch last Friday.

Mr Albanese announced parliament would meet on September 23, the day after the national day of mourning public holiday, so MPs and senators can pay their respects.

Parliament will reconvene as normal the following week between September 26 and 28.

But Mr Albanese won’t be there, as he will go to the funeral of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

On September 23, Mr Albanese and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton will move condolence motions and speak for 15 minutes each honouring the Queen.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and Nationals Leader David Littleproud will then speak for 10 minutes each, with all other MPs and senators given five minutes to pay tribute.

“This is not a time for partisanship, this is a time for unity of Australia as a nation, a time where we are grieving and acknowledging the contribution of Queen Elizabeth II as our head of state for 70 years,” Mr Albanese told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

“We will be able to have business as usual during those sitting days of the 26th to the 28th of September, and we will have an appropriate sitting of the parliament where people will be able to make a contribution on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.”

Key government legislation, such as a bill introducing a federal integrity commission, was to be introduced to parliament during the sitting week that was scheduled to begin on Monday.

-with AAP

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