“Canberra’s growing reputation as a must-see destination for visitors from interstate and overseas has received a setback in the form of the ACT Government’s decision to makeEaster Sunday a public holiday.
“At a time when there is a sensible debate taking place about the quantum of penalty rates, this is a backwards step for Canberra’s accommodation industry.
“The significant change means the four days over the Easter weekend will all be public holidays and therefore, full-time and part-time staff will receive the equivalent of 10 normal days’ pay for working on the four days of Easter.
“The direct consequence is that it will be uneconomical for many restaurants, cafes and bars in accommodation businesses in Canberra to open at any time over Easter.
“The higher wage rates on Easter Sunday will mean that many stand-alone restaurants and cafes will also close for the entire Easter weekend.
“Interstate and overseas visitors being confronted by locked doors at restaurants and cafes over Easter is not the message that Canberra should be sending.
“With the value of the Australian dollar dropping, it is an ideal time to push for increases in the number of international visitors, but this opportunity is set to be squandered as a result of this type of announcement.
“It should be remembered, too, that operators of major accommodation businesses have no choice but to continue to have staff on duty 24 hours a day, which significantly adds to the wage bill.”