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Will We Get A Public Holiday If The Matildas Win The World Cup?

As Bob Hawke said, “Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum.”
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The Matildas made history this August, moving further than any Australian soccer team have ever been in a World Cup — yes, even further than the Socceroos.

The support for the women’s team has never been higher, and they face a real chance of winning this thing. A question arises: if the Matildas bring home the trophy, will politicians give us a public holiday?

Technically, there is no precedent for a legally sanctioned public holiday gifted by a Prime Minister. However, in 1983 when a West Australian boat won the America’s Cup race, then Prime Minister Bob Hawke declared a non-official public holiday.

“Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum,” he famously said.

Some fine language from Australia’s leading representative there.

It appears that Australia may be in for its second ‘Hawkian’ moment, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese saying that he would raise the subject of a public holiday this week.

Albanese is a staunch supporter of the Matildas. (Credit: Image: Getty)

“They [the Matildas] go a semi-final on Wednesday, which happens to be the day of [national cabinet],” he said. “So certainly, I’ll be raising with all the premiers and chief ministers, seeking their views on the potential to have a day off.”

NSW Premier Chris Minns said he is in favour of a public holiday if a win does materialise. “We’d love to back the Matildas with a public holiday,” he said in a statement read on 4GB.

While there have been discerning voices from business representatives, Albanese believes Queen Elizabeth’s death in 2022 was a prime example that public holidays don’t put businesses in a worse place.

“The world doesn’t stop on a public holiday,” Albanese said.

“I remember when we did the National Day of Mourning for the Queen that was designated as part of the process that had been set down years in advance, there was some of the fears about what would happen, and small businesses had the biggest boost if you were in the hospitality industry that they’d had in a very long time.

“Regardless of what happens we need to have a proper celebration of the Matildas and their achievements.”

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews is keeping his views to himself. “Let’s not jinx this, let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” he said on Tuesday.

When Will A Public Holiday For The Matildas Be Confirmed?

We will know once cabinet meets. (Credit: Image: Getty)

A public holiday will likely be confirmed or denied after the sitting of cabinet on Wednesday afternoon.

“We’ll work with the other states and the Commonwealth to get the right date,” Minns said of the meeting. 

Small Business Representatives Not In Favour

While the Prime Minister is hoping for a public holiday for the Matildas, Canberra Business Chamber’s chief executive Greg Harford told ABC News that it would have an impact.

“Look, if the Matildas win the World Cup then obviously, we have to celebrate, but doing that through a public holiday will probably not be great for business,” he said.

National Party leader David Littleproud has also come out against the proposed day.

“It’s easy to call for a national holiday when someone else is paying for it,” he said. “We’ve just got to understand that someone’s got to foot that bill and businesses out there are doing it tough.”

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce felt that it would be unfair to give a public holiday to the Matildas and not other sporting teams, such as the Diamonds netball team who recently won.

“Why didn’t we have a day off after the Diamonds won — they would have put in just as much effort as anybody else,” he said.

“When we go well in the Olympics are we going to have a day off after that?”

Generally, Public Holidays Are Chosen On A State Level

Usually new public holidays are up to the state. (Credit: Image: Getty)

There’s a reason Victoria gets more public holidays than NSW. It is up to the state to confirm which public holidays they choose to observe.

For the queen’s funeral, Albanese wrote to state leaders to ask them to declare the holiday. He couldn’t order it himself.

Some States Do Hold Public Holidays For Sporting Events

South Australia has observed a holiday for the Adelaide Cup, held annually in March, since 1973.

Victoria has two public holidays for sporting events, the AFL grand final and the Melbourne cup.

Thus far, other states have not held public holidays for sporting achievements.

When Would A Public Holiday Take Place? 

Unlike Victoria, where everyone gets a day off after the AFL grand final, it’s unlikely a public holiday would take place the day after the FIFA World Cup final — in which Spain is set to play the winner of Australia vs England.

“Legally, we have to cut seven days notice before we can consider public holidays,” Minns explained on 2DAY FM.

“So the plan would be to call it on the night, have it quickly afterwards, keep the girls hopefully in NSW or Australia for a week and then I think you’ll see hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people celebrating the win with them about a week later.”

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