'Monday-ise' bill passes first reading

By Kate Shuttleworth

There could be more long weekends ahead for some Kiwis if a bill to Monday-ise Waitangi Day and Anzac Day passes its first hurdle. Photo / Thinkstock
There could be more long weekends ahead for some Kiwis if a bill to Monday-ise Waitangi Day and Anzac Day passes its first hurdle. Photo / Thinkstock

A bill to Monday-ise Waitangi and Anzac days passed its first reading in Parliament today.

The Holidays (Full Recognition of Waitangi Day and Anzac Day) Amendment bill was originally drafted by Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson and is designed to give New Zealanders the Monday off work if Waitangi Day or Anzac Day falls on a weekend

After passing its first reading, the bill will now be examined by a select committee.

The Labour, Greens, Maori, Mana and United Future parties voted in favour of the bill while the National Party and Act voted against the bill progressing to a select committee.

Labour Party Grant Robertson said public holidays like Christmas day were already Monday-ised and said this should be extended to Waitangi Day and Anzac Day.

"Why would the National Party oppose a fair deal for New Zealanders?"

Maori Party MP te Ururoa Flavell said the bill should go before a select committee and be further examined.

He said Waitangi Day and Anzac Day will continue to be important to New Zealanders if the holidays are Monday-ised.

Labour revenue spokesman David Clark said attendance at Anzac Day had increased after the public holiday became Monday-ised in Australia.

The Tourism Industry Association of New Zealand lobbied political leaders, urging them to support a bill.

Chief executive of Tourism Industry Association (TIA) New Zealand Martin Snedden said the bill will boost the tourism economy and stimulate domestic tourism.

Mr Snedden contacted 100 tourism operators around the country and said they saw the bill as an important way to motivate Kiwis to travel more in their own country.

"It would be a huge boost for domestic tourism which pours $26 million a day into communities around the country.''

"Domestic visitors are the mainstay for many tourism operations. They contribute in excess of $13 billion to the tourism industry's total annual earnings of $23 billion as well as supporting thousands of jobs,'' he said.

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

Labour's David Clark said the bill ensures every working New Zealand would get 11 public holidays a year.

He said the Government's claims the bill would be too expensive were unfounded.

"Their figures deliberately included the 228,000 self-employed people who aren't affected by changes to public holidays,'' he said.

"They have ignored the benefits that increased domestic tourism would bring and ignored the ability of flexible businesses to absorb and adapt to change''

Justice Minister Judith Collins said Anzac Day was a day to remember the dead and having a holiday was 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.

Australians have a Monday off when Anzac Day falls on the weekend.

How do our public holidays stack up:

- Public holidays vary in each state of Australia but on average Australians have 12 public holidays a year;

- Workers in the UK have eight days public holiday a year - the lowest number of public holidays in Western Europe.

- New Zealanders are entitled to 11 public holidays a year;

- APNZ

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