The Northern Territory Government will seek to introduce half-day public holidays from 7pm to midnight on the evening before Christmas and the evening before New Year’s Day.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner says the changes are designed to boost population growth and kick-start the economy.
“We are also not attracting people to live here in the same proportions as we have in the past, and that is bad for business,” he said. “Unless addressed, this lack of population growth will result in fewer jobs for Territorians and fewer jobs will mean more people leaving the Territory – a vicious cycle for our economy. These changes will ensure Territory employees working Christmas and New Year’s Eve are given a fair go and compensated for their effort.”
The move seeks to match the holidays given in other jurisdictions, such as South Australia, which declared the holidays in 2012. If the proposal is successful, retailers will be forced to pay penalty rates to staff who work between the hours of 7pm and midnight on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
National Retailers Association CEO Dominique Lamb says the retail industry has not been consulted about the proposal and the move will be devastating to retailers as they head into a busy time of year.
“There will be some retailers who are unable to afford more penalty rates during the Christmas and New Year period and as a result will shut their doors for trade,” she said. “If retailers close their doors, employees miss out on work and consumers are left with fewer options when doing Christmas and New Year shopping. We ask that the Government consults with the retail industry and considers the potential consequences of further public holidays during Christmas and New Year before they go ahead with this scheme.”