Day shift devalues holiday RSA


The RSA has criticised a bill to Monday-ise holidays, saying it will trivialise the true intent of Anzac Day and take the focus away from solemn commemorations.

The Labour-drafted bill, which would give people Monday off work when Anzac Day or Waitangi Day falls on a weekend, has passed its first reading in Parliament with the National and Act parties voting against the bill progressing to select committee.

RSA national president Don McIver said its national executive committee was opposed to the legislation after giving it serious consideration.

"The RSA policy has always been to preserve the special nature of Anzac Day," he said.

Anzac Day commemorations should always fall on April 25, he said, not on the nearest week day, which the bill would not change.

"However, we are seriously concerned that to allow a holiday long weekend when Anzac Day falls within a weekend will take the focus away from our most solemn day of commemoration in memory of the sacrifice of New Zealanders for their nation and, instead, turn attention towards the holiday itself.

"We are concerned that this will trivialise the true intent of this very special day of national commemoration," Mr McIver said.

Mount Maunganui RSA general manager Peter Moss agreed.

"I agree with the RSA stand and I think making a long weekend would take away the poignancy of the occasion.

"It has to be celebrated on the actual day.

"It was at dawn on the 25th April that the Anzac troops landed at Gallipoli."

Hospitality New Zealand regional manager Alan Sciascia said when a public holiday was Monday-ised it had the effect of creating a long weekend, which had significant benefits for tourist destinations such as Tauranga, Rotorua, Taupo and others.

"Destinations centres like these usually arrange significant promotional activities on these weekends and holiday makers will often travel long distances to attend. This brings significant benefits to the hospitality industry in those areas," he said.

But he conceded that although the holiday destinations would get a distinct advantage, the effect for employers of employees who worked Monday to Friday would incur some additional cost and disruption, on only two days over the next seven years.

Tourism Bay of Plenty general manager Rhys Arrowsmith said, "I believe that some public holidays that are sacred should remain as they are and that other holidays could very well be Monday-ised for the benefit of the nation to celebrate."

Justice Minister Judith Collins, who previously held the Veterans' Affairs portfolio, said she believed Anzac Day was a day to remember the dead, and having a holiday is inappropriate.

"Frankly to reduce it into a three-day weekend is, I think, very disrespectful to the people whose lives have been lost.

"If people need to have a holiday to go and actually turn up at dawn parade then there's something wrong," she said.

Prime Minister John Key has said the move could cost $200 million each time a holiday fell on a weekend.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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