Queensland Labour Day stoush continues in committee

Then-premier Anna Bligh and minister Kate Jones at the 2012 Brisbane Labour Day march. Photo: Glenn HuntThe debate over the rescheduling of Queensland’s Labour Day and Queen’s Birthday public holidays has continued to rage, even after its apparent post-election resolution.
Nanjing Night Net

The return of Labour Day to May was one of the first calls of business for the incoming Palaszczuk government, which fulfilled a promise made during the state election campaign.

The previous Newman government had come under fire for moving Labour Day to October while bringing the Queen’s Birthday forward to June and was accused of fudging survey figures to support its move.

The Parliament’s cross-party Finance and Administration Committee on Monday tabled its report into the Holidays and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015, which was introduced to the Legislative Assembly in June.

As expected, both parties maintained their lines.

The six-strong committee’s three LNP members, Pat Weir, Verity Barton and Michael Crandon, said the government’s approach was “more about ideology and showing gratitude to the union movement” than the “wants and needs of Queenslanders in modern times”.

“The non-government members of the committee … believe the views of Queenslanders, the majority of whom do not have direct links with the union movement, are being ignored in favour of repaying dues to the union movement,” the report stated.

But the committee’s Labor members, Duncan Pegg, Craig Crawford and committee chairwoman Di Farmer, accused the LNP of partaking in the same sort of ideological battle of which they had been accused.

“There was strong suggestion at the time that the (Newman) government’s decision had been based solely on an ideological opposition to unionism,” the Labor committee members noted.

“…Of greater importance to government members in considering the two alternatives was the cultural and community significance attached to the celebration of Labour Day in Queensland on the first Monday in May, with no corresponding significance attached to the celebration of the Queen’s Birthday in June.”

The  Bligh government moved the Queen’s Birthday holiday from the second Monday in June to the first Monday in October in an attempt to spread public holidays more evenly across the calendar year.

But the Newman government in turn moved Labour day from the first Monday in May, where it had been observed since 1891, to the first Monday in October, while moving the Queen’s Birthday holiday back to the second Monday in June.

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