A Bank Holiday to honour Queen Elizabeth makes sense in the UK where it’s being held on the day of her funeral.
That will allow people who want to listen to, and watch, the service live to do so.
A public holiday here makes a lot less sense.
The funeral will take place at 10pm New Zealand time when few of us are working. Watching or listening live to it will mean a late night which could give credence to a day off next day.
But how many people will stay up and need a day off to recover, especially when it would be possible to record the service and watch it at a more convenient time? And if they do why expect their employers to pay for it?
The idea of having a holiday is as a mark of respect for the late Queen but is that the best way of doing it, especially when she was exemplary in putting duty first?
And how many people will use a day off to honour her and how many will treat it as just another day off like most if not all of the 12 other public holidays we have every year?
Anzac and Waitangi Days have public observations. Christians mark Good Friday and Christmas Day with special services. But for most people these are, like the others, paid days off or, if you have to work, days when you are paid time and a half and get a day off in lieu.
So if most aren’t actually going to honour the Queen, why inflict a public holiday on all the businesses already struggling with rising costs, staff shortages; and on children having missed so much school through Covid-19 illness and isolation?
And if they do want a holiday, there’s a better way than a government prescribed one:
The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union says that New Zealanders should take a day of annual leave to mark the passing Queen Elizabeth II rather than have another public holiday.
Taxpayers’ Union Board Member and small business owner Chris Milne said:
“We all mourn the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and recognise her dedicated service to the people of New Zealand over her long reign.
“For small businesses—who are still trying to recover after the pandemic—this is yet another cost loaded on. The owners of these businesses, many small family enterprises, are being told to pay not only for their own respect for the Queen, but also for all the respect shown by their staff. This is inequitable. The Queen was the queen of us all and the cost should fall on all of us.
“Rather than rejecting the idea of an observance to recognise the Queen, the Taxpayers’ Union believes that New Zealanders should, if they wish to do so, take a day of annual leave to mark this historic occasion and an extraordinary life.”
If people want a holiday to mourn the Queen’s death, they can do so without it being a government mandated one with all the costs associated with that.