Monday, 28 September 2015

Yet Another Public Holiday

A new state-wide public holiday is coming up soon in Victoria, Australia. Unfortunately, its announcement wasn't met with the excitement and undying gratitude of the public that the Government probably expected. Grand Final Friday falls on 2nd October, the Friday before the AFL (Australian Football League) Grand Final. Yes, it's a holiday devoted to sport, and it's not our first one!

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Objections to the new holiday came from various sources. Traders were not happy as they would have to pay their staff double-time wages, and business would drop the same way it does for other public holidays. Politicians from opposing parties called it a cynical grab for votes. Even the AFL weren't happy. You see, that day is reserved for the traditional Grand Final Friday parade through the city. Normally, city workers on their lunchbreaks make up a fair proportion of the audience and without them, the Grand Final Friday parade could be a fizzer.

And why am I putting "Grand Final Friday" in capital letters anyway, when it wasn't even a thing until a couple of months ago?!

Many others thought it was all a bit pointless, really. We already have enough holidays devoted to sectarian religions, racist colonialism and flimsy excuses for drinking and gambling. Not everyone likes football. Why add another holiday that will possibly only serve to divide the community?

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The only one who seems to be pleased that there's a new public holiday is the downtrodden footy fan on the street. Despite our laidback image, Australia ranks near the bottom of the world when it comes to public holidays, with 9 national holidays per year, and 1 to 2 extra state-wide holidays per state. I'm certainly not saying that we don't need an extra holiday! To date, in the state of Victoria, there's been a big gap between holidays in Winter. Queen's Birthday is at the start of June. Melbourne Cup day, a statewide holiday and the other sport-related holiday that I referred to earlier, is in November. That's five whole months of Winter grind to get through betwen public holidays. It's been a source of public commiseration for years. So a new holiday that breaks the drought is very welcome, but we already have one based around sport -- perhaps we could have thought of something different?

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As I mentioned, most of the other states in Australia have 1 or 2 state-wide public holidays a year as well, but none of them are sport-related. The ACT has Family & Community Day. Western Australia has Western Australia Day. Not very original, but at least it's something everyone can relate to. South Australia has Proclamation Day, though it falls the day after Boxing Day so I think they're just trying to get an extra day at Christmas! Northern Territory has Picnic Day. Picnic Day! What a wondrous thing! Not only does it celebrate picnics, but it also celebrates the freeing of indentured labourers. That's a holiday everyone can get behind.

Whether you like football or not, we have a new public holiday. I'm sure everyone will spend it doing things they enjoy, whether sport-related or not, so who am I to complain? All I know is, I have a three-day weekend coming up, it's Spring and life is good.

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