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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 17 November 2015) . . Page.. 4068 ..

positioning some of them in more appropriate places. Family and Community Day falls a week from the October long weekend and it drives businesses nuts. For four days leave people are getting a huge holiday, which is great for the individual, but for business it is an absolute conundrum of meeting staffing demands, meeting the needs of their customers and meeting their business obligations. All the while, members opposite seem to think that another public holiday is a good thing for all and that everyone wins. But there is a cost, be it government to pay for the nurses or our firies who work on those days or the small businesses that employ juniors and so many other Canberrans.

As I have said Easter is a significant day for so many in our community. The opposition will be supporting the passage of this legislation, but we really do want to highlight the impact that yet another public holiday has on our business community. We want to highlight that 14 public holidays—the most in this country—is probably about the bag limit of how many we should be having in this city. We hope that there is a constructive conversation about how holidays in future are allocated so that everyone is consulted and these things are not simply made as a gesture to the union movement to shore up their largesse come an election year.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for Planning, Minister for Roads and Parking, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations, Minister for Children and Young People and Minister for Ageing) (5.32), in reply: I am very pleased to hear the comments from Assembly members today and very pleased to hear all Assembly members supporting this important bill. I am very pleased to speak in favour of the Holidays Amendment Bill.

In addition to the religious significance, the vast majority of Australians enjoy Easter as a four-day holiday weekend starting on Good Friday and ending on Easter Monday. This extra-long weekend is an opportunity for hardworking Australians to take a well-deserved break or to get together with family and friends. Easter often coincides with school holidays, so many people with school-aged children incorporate Easter into a longer family holiday. Easter is the busiest time of year for domestic air travel in Australia and a very popular time for gatherings such as weddings and christenings.

There are many festivals held over the Easter holiday in Australia. Performers and audiences travel long distances to attend music festivals all over the country, including our very own National Folk Festival here in Canberra. Football season is well underway by Easter and all codes schedule special matches over the Easter holiday period which are well attended.

The amendments proposed by this bill will now give more Canberrans the opportunity to participate in these events. Together with last year’s amendments to the Holidays Act that ensured that Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day are now public holidays on the actual days they fall, this bill continues the government’s reforms to the ACT’s public holiday regime. It responds to the community’s views that Easter is also a significant holiday period compared to Christmas and New Year. There is an expectation that it is important that public holiday entitlements be afforded to all workers during these periods and that the system is made fairer for those who have to spend their time at work instead.

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