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Speech: Public Holiday Bill

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I rise on behalf of the Greens in support of this bill. As you may recall, in December 2021, I introduced a bill to this place to amend the Holidays Act to make Christmas Day, no matter what day it fell on, a public holiday, and indeed there was support not from the government of the day but there was support from the crossbench and the then Labor opposition.

During this time, of course, the then Labor opposition, the crossbench and the Greens rallied together and that bill, in fact, passed the upper house of that former Marshall government parliament. Since then, our position has not changed. When I did my research on that 2021 bill, I noted that the leader of the Greens in the federal parliament, Adam Bandt, first championed and identified this issue in the federal parliament not long after the 2010 changes. So for those who fear that the Greens do not defend Christmas, I point to our record on defending the Christmas.

The Hon. B.R. Hood interjecting:

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Sorry, the Hon. Ben Hood?

Members interjecting:


The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I thought we were here on a Tuesday in November to debate making Christmas Day and Easter Sunday public holidays. I did not get the memo that the Liberals clearly got that it was April Fool's Day in November this year, listening to the contribution of the Liberal opposition.

Our position is that Christmas Day is a special day that is shared with family and loved ones regardless of your faith or belief. For some, Christmas Day is the day they are required to work, so
they miss out on this special time and that sacrifice should attract due compensation. Every other state and territory in this nation recognises that 25 December is a public holiday, yet here in South Australia our legislation lags behind.

According to the Adelaidenow poll from 2021, over 99 per cent of South Australians support this change. If we fail to protect these workers through adequate allowances, including our emergency service workers, police, paramedics, healthcare workers, transport workers and NDIS carers, we risk leaving those essential services vulnerable to those workers calling in sick or purposely missing their shifts due to the lack of appropriate compensation for their time. They sacrifice that time with their loved ones—precious time—time that I know some of us in this place seem to take for granted.

No matter how you celebrate 25 December, all workers deserve the right to penalty rates for the time missed with their family and loved ones and we deserve as a society to have certain days in the calendar that families and loved ones can have that time together. This bill will take one step further and bring South Australia in line with every other mainland state and make Easter Sunday a declared public holiday. I note that is also a change the Greens support, noting that these same workers are the most likely to be positively impacted and paid their dues. I do note that the Hon. Heidi Girolamo on behalf of the Liberal opposition bemoaned the fact that we would have 13 public holidays as a result of this bill. I point out three things: one, 13 is a very special day for Swifties and I am a declared Swiftie, so I will absolutely defend that. Two, more seriously, this bill, as the Hon. Connie Bonaros has pointed out, provides clarity because currently under our laws every single Sunday is a public holiday in South Australia and it would be a very interesting proposition should this be tested by the courts, one that I do not think the Liberal opposition would be very pleased about. Finally, South Australia will still not have the most public holidays of any jurisdiction in this country. In fact, we will still be in the middle when it comes to the number of public holidays that we have with this very minute increase.

This is a change that the Greens support. We have suffered long under the current system, and it would be nice for workers to not just be paid their dues and paid for their work, something that I note some Liberals seem to have a problem with, but have a little extra to pay those Christmas bills, particularly in this cost-of-living crisis. They will also potentially get some holiday time if it is not viable to employ them for those days.

With those few words, I do look forward to the debate. I look forward more keenly to the passage of this bill. I do question, as the Hon. Connie Bonaros did, why the Liberals seek to enshrine such things as the Adelaide Cup public holiday in the legislation, when in fact that date has moved around. In fact, the Adelaide Cup horse race is hardly the reason that most South Australians enjoy that long weekend in March and indeed it has been far outstripped by many, many other events of greater significance in that particular month. The sovereign's birthday being enshrined in words—in law—makes me question why we are not celebrating the sovereign people of this nation in any of our public holidays, but the Greens will save that debate for another day. I look forward to the passage of this bill.

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