Gary Heilmann, of De Brett Seafood, says businesses can not afford wages on public holidays.
Gary Heilmann, of De Brett Seafood, says businesses can not afford wages on public holidays. Warren Lynam

Christmas cheer out for businesses

STOCK up the pantry early this Christmas because penalty rates over the bumper long weekend will force many businesses to keep their doors shut.

With Christmas falling on a Sunday, business owners who elect to stay open will have to pay overtime rates if they open on both Boxing Day and the next day.

New Year's Day is a similar story.

The Monday will be a public holiday to make up for New Year's falling on a Sunday.

Changes to the law which prohibit businesses from charging a public holiday surcharge have not helped.

They have to have the price included in the menu to be able to charge it.

De Brett Seafood owner Gary Heilmann said he had to pay staff double-and-a-half on a public holiday - as much as $60 an hour for a casual.

Mr Heilmann said he had to reprice about 300 different items at his shop at Mooloolaba Wharf to incorporate a price increase as he did not use traditional menus.

"This is because the idiot government doesn't think people can read a sign which says a 15% public holiday surcharge," he said.

Mr Heilmann was sure many other restaurants, take-aways and tourist shops simply would not bother to open.

"Lots of places can't afford the wages and go backwards on public holidays," he said.

His concerns were shared by Maroochydore Chamber of Commerce president Ross Hepworth and Sunshine Coast Chamber Alliance president Myles McNamara.

The State Government's plan to add another public holiday in October next year to celebrate the Queen's Birthday was not welcomed, either.

The National Retail Association blasted the decision, saying neither the service sector nor the state budget could "afford such largess".

NRA executive director Gary Black said the decision to gazette two holidays for the Queen's Birthday - in June and October - would harm seven-day trading sectors such as retail and tourism which were already in crisis mode because of falling demand and rising costs of operation.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland estimated the extra public holiday would create upwards of $342 million in wage costs and in turn decrease economic productivity.

CCIQ president David Goodwin said Queensland businesses were strongly opposed to the proposal.

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