Victorians have a day off for a horse race and a cricket match, and now there are plans for another public holiday on the day before the AFL Grand Final.
A Regulatory Impact Statement says that extra day off, along with a public holiday on Easter Sunday, will cost Australia’s self-proclaimed sporting capital between $717 million and $898 million annually.
But it also says the two extra days off will deliver between $156 million and $312 million in benefits.
Acting Small Business Minister Gavin Jennings picked the best case scenario, saying the overall cost would be about $400 million.
Despite estimated costs outweighing the benefits, Mr Jennings said it was hard to qualify without trying it.
“You cannot estimate what the potential of economical activity may be or the value of families coming together until we live it,” Mr Jennings told reporters on Wednesday.
The day would not only boost tourism in Melbourne, it could have benefits across the state, he said.
Both public holidays were Labor’s pre-election promises, and the government will make them official once the public consultation period ends in 28 days.
Opposition spokesman for jobs, Craig Ondarchie, said the RIS report showed introducing the extra days off was reckless.
But he stopped short of promising to reverse the decision if his party won the next election.
“It is economic vandalism, so (Premier) Daniel Andrews can have another day off,” he told reporters.
Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief Mark Stone said that on Grand Final Friday alone, Victorian businesses could face a $543 million bill to pay full time workers not to work.
He said the two new holidays would widen the disparity between public holiday arrangements across Australia.
It would mean Victoria will have 13 days, compared to NSW with 11, and Queensland and Western Australia with 10.
Victorian Trades Hall Council was pleased, saying hard-working people need time off now and then.
“Victoria is not just an economy, we are also a society,” VTHC secretary Luke Hilakari said.