New public holidays will cripple the Victorian automotive industry

Melbourne, 20 August – Small business and motorists around Victoria will bear the burden of the State Government’s decision to create two new public holidays. 

Victorian businesses will be forced to face increased wages of almost $300 million, hurting their bottom line on AFL Grand Final Eve and Easter Sunday. Many automotive businesses will be forced to close or operate at a loss, harming the state’s productivity and making it harder for motorists to buy fuel. 

“The Government has shown a complete disregard for small business owners around Victoria, particularly in the automotive sector which is already struggling,” said Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym. 

“Our members provide essential services, and if they can’t afford to open on a public holiday, then motorists may struggle to fill up or buy essentials.” 

Mr Gwilym slammed the comments of Premier, Daniel Andrews, who said that any criticism of the public holiday was by those who don’t like penalty rates. 

“This is not about employers being greedy; it’s about a business being able to stay open and provide important services to the public,” Mr Gwilym said. 

While a large proportion of VACC’s 5,000 members will remain open on the Friday before the AFL Grand Final, Mr Gwilym said employers would be forced to bear the burden of paying their employees double time and a half. 

“This is already a highly competitive industry, with 600 automotive businesses closing between 2011 and 2013. Employers are facing tough times, and the last thing they need to cop is decreased productivity and unaffordable wages,” Mr Gwilym said. 

Mr Gwilym said service stations would be most hurt by the Easter Sunday public holiday as profit margins are often as low as two per cent. Many owners will not be able to afford paying double the normal Sunday rate, to the point where they will have to close. 

“This is a popular time for holiday road trips, but if service stations around the state can’t afford to stay open, where will people fill up?” Mr Gwilym said. 

Mr Gwilym urged the Government to reconsider its decision and take into account the burden facing automotive businesses. 

The combined loss of output in the Victorian economy is estimated to be $717-898 million per annum.

VACC is Victoria’s peak automotive industry body representing more than 5,000 small business members

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VACC Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym
VACC Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym, says many of VACC's members, including service stations, may find it unaffordable to remain open on extra public holidays