"Monday-ising" Waitangi and Anzac days would "cheapen" them, senior Cabinet minister Gerry Brownlee said this morning just hours after Prime Minister John Key cited advice that it would take up to $400 million out of the economy.
But Labour leader David Shearer said given the low frequency with which Monday-isation would occur and the number of New Zealanders it affected, the cost was just a few cents per worker and it was "mean" to deny New Zealand workers the holidays they were otherwise entitled to.
Labour MP David Clark's Members Bill, which would give workers a holiday the following Monday when Anzac or Waitangi Day fell on the weekend, was drawn from a parliamentary ballot last week.
This morning on his way into a caucus meeting where National MPs were to discuss the issue, Mr Brownlee said the two days were memorial days.
"The idea is that we remember things that occurred on those days so it seems to me that you would cheapen that remembrance by just tacking them on to any old weekend."
Yesterday, Mr Key said he'd now received advice from the Department of Labour on the issue after the advice pointed out that the next time either day fell on a weekend was in 2015 and it was not until 2021 that both Anzac and Waitangi Day fell on a weekend in the same year.
The department had told Mr Key the cost to the economy for an individual day if Monday-ised was $200 million or $400 million in a year when both were Monday-ised.
"The recommendation from the Department of Labour is not to Monday-ise them" Mr Key said. But Labour leader David Shearer said Monday-ising the holidays was "a terrific idea" that most New Zealanders would support.
"We're entitled to 11 public holidays a year, for these two public holidays falling on a weekend that means we miss out.
"Why can't we have those holidays?" Mr Shearer said.
Once the estimated $200 million cost for Monday-ising each holiday was averaged out across the number of years between when it would occur and across the population affected, the cost would be "a few cents per person".
"I think it's just a bit mean really." The issue was to be discussed amongst National MPs at today's caucus meeting, before the Government decided whether it not it would support Mr Clark's bill.
Mr Key said he intended seeking further information on the matter including advice that New Zealand was " at the reasonably generous end in terms of the number of holidays we have compared to other countries around the world" apart from Australia.
Even if National decides to vote against Mr Clark's bill, it may pass anyway with its coalition partners the Maori Party and United Future still deciding whether to support it.
United Future leader Peter Dunne said it was more likely than not he would support the bill which will come up for parliamentary scrutiny in six weeks time.