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Winston Peters pours cold water on one-off public holiday idea

NZ First and its leader, Winston Peters, are pushing back against calls for an additional public holiday.

Winston Peters. Source: 1 NEWS

Some tourism operators have lobbied for a one-off public holiday to help boost their Covid-19 recovery after business was decimated due to the pandemic. 

Yesterday, the Prime Minister said the Government was considering it. 

"We are, as a Government, thinking as we speak around the ideas to encourage New Zealanders to come and see their own backyard," Ms Ardern said. 

"There’s a range of things that sit within that and those are things we’re giving active consideration to."

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Tourism industry pushes for one-off public holiday to boost economy - and the Government is considering it

However, Mr Peters today tweeted: "Our answer after serious thought is – no."

"New Zealand has just been through weeks of lockdown – in some ways an enforced holiday. We understand how Covid put business owners under real financial strain.

"We know that business owners are not paying themselves so they can keep their staff going and many who are paying their bills, but not paying themselves. That is why we can’t support extra public holidays – they come at a cost to businesses and workers.

"It’s another day of no production, when production is well down due to Covid. For many businesses it’s a day of no income when they need to pay their bills. Holidays are great, but it will cost small businesses, and will cost 1000s of workers their jobs."

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Tourism operators say it would give them a boost after missing out on recent long weekends. Source: 1 NEWS

Tourism Industry Aotearoa's Chris Roberts told 1 NEWS yesterday operators' takings can triple on long weekends.

"Some tourism operators say that their takings are 200-300 per cent up when they have a long weekend, and they know that from past patterns. Already the existing public holidays we have are an incredibly important part of domestic tourism, and given what we've gone through another day off, not a bad idea."

After Queen's Birthday weekend on June 1, there is not a nationwide long weekend until Labour Day at the end of October.

Employers and Manufacturers Association said yesterday that businesses would face huge costs from holiday pay and productivity would suffer.

Chief executive Brett O’Riley suggests many employers could look at implementing four-day working weeks to try to increase productivity and ultimately lead to more time off for staff to go explore the country or holiday.

Despite her coalition partner's statement, Ms Ardern reaffirmed today she is still considering the idea. She said she is still wanting to hear pros and cons from the business community.

“These are extraordinary times and we should be willing to hear extraordinary ideas,” she said.