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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 17 November 2015) . . Page.. 4065 ..

I have said this in this place before: it is clear that the word “holiday” comes from “holy day”. These days were initially given so that businesses were shut out of respect in the Christian tradition that we come from—they are basically the essential days of the Christian churches—so that people could attend church. Indeed holy days were mandatory days on which people had to attend church. That is where we get the tradition of the holidays from. Time moves on. People still celebrate, and they celebrate in different ways. It is interesting that the number of holidays is going up but church attendance is going down. It is an interesting correlation.

I think we have to keep it in context. For instance, that is why Good Friday and Easter Monday are holidays. In fact they are part of what used to be called the Octave of Easter, which was an eight-day event in the Christian churches. That has shrunk over time. Christmas Day is clearly the birth of Christ; Boxing Day is the feast of Stephen, the first martyr; New Year’s Day was in relation to the Epiphany and was a Christian festival, and so it goes on.

The world has changed; I respect that. The practice of business has changed. I can remember a time when, for instance, even the Canberra Times was not published on Good Friday and Christmas Day out of respect. We see that most of the journals are now published at least on Good Friday. The movie theatres were closed. Even the pubs were closed. Just about everything used to be closed on Good Friday. Now we have footy matches and all sorts of things. Life moves on, and people celebrate these days as they see fit. But, at the end of the day, somebody pays. Every day we gazette as a public holiday is an extra impost on business. The government must come to an understanding with the business community. They seem to have forgotten them over the last 15 years. They have certainly forgotten them when they make these extra public holidays.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (5.22): I will be supporting the passage of this bill. It follows on from last year’s Holidays Amendment Bill which designated Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day as public holidays and ensured there was also a weekday holiday if one of these days fell on a weekend. The 2015 Holidays Amendment Bill designates Easter Sunday as a public holiday. As Mr Gentleman pointed out when he tabled the bill, the act currently does not provide for Easter Sunday as a public holiday because when it was legislated there was an assumption that business did not take place on a Sunday. Sunday was the day of rest, and that is, of course, not the norm anymore in our modern working environment.

I believe that Easter Sunday should be a public holiday. It is appropriate, fair and really what people expect should occur on Easter Sunday. It is a special day for many people, a religious occasion, and working people should be given time to spend with their families and their friends or be compensated for giving up that privilege. As Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Monday are already public holidays, it is also strange that Easter Sunday is not. It makes it difficult for some people to use the Easter period as a time to take a multi-day break.

Last time we spoke about holiday amendments, I pointed out that Australians already worked long, hard hours and that this was encroaching more and more on their home

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