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ASX, business community caught off guard by public holiday announcement

5 minute read

The Prime Minister has announced a one-off public holiday as the nation remembers the life of Queen Elizabeth II, but businesses – big and small – have been caught off guard. 

The public holiday announcement has been criticised by business groups, who have said it would be a huge disruption to already struggling businesses.

The ASX too, was taken off guard by the announcement, and while it is ordinarily closed on national public holidays, a spokesperson for the stock exchange told InvestorDaily on Monday morning that before the closure can officially be confirmed, it needs to work through “some logistics and technical matters”.

Hours later, on Monday afternoon, the ASX confirmed that the ASX Trade (equities) and the ASX 24 (futures) would be closed on 22 September. 


“ASX has reached this decision with the support of key stakeholders and is consistent with the position of most other major institutions. It is standard practice for ASX to observe national holidays by declaring a non-trading and non-settlement day,” David Park, senior media adviser said in a statement.

“While the relatively short notice presents operational, technical and business challenges for ASX and the markets, ASX appreciates the support of its stakeholders to help honour the significance of the occasion.”

The public holiday has sparked a lot of confusion, including around parliamentary sittings. 

Namely, the parliament was suspended for two weeks following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. However, the next sitting week is scheduled for late October, when the government plans to hand down its first budget. 

Speaking to ABC News Breakfast on Monday morning, the PM said the intention is to make up for lost time before the budget.

“Yes. That's the intention. It's to pick up those four days that Parliament would have been sitting. 

“Tradition, I know, sometimes can be inconvenient. But traditions are important. Traditions and protocols are one of the things that bind us together. And I do think that the 22nd (of) September can be a moment that brings our nation together.

“That is certainly the intention that I have and that I know the leader of the opposition has expressed his support for it being the National Day of Mourning and for a public holiday as well.”

The PM added “this is something that is above politics”.

Prodded further by the media in Canberra on Monday afternoon, the PM said: “This is the first we've had a change of a head of state in which we've been in a position, in which Australia needs to and wants to give thank you to Queen Elizabeth II.”

But many feel they've been left in the lurch by the PM's sudden announcement.

The National Retail Association has asked the government for more clarification.

“While the public holiday is yet to be officially gazetted, the National Retail Association has begun consulting with the states and territories regarding trading conditions on the day. Members will be provided with a further update in due course,” the association said in a statement on Monday. 

Similarly, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said that while “many in our community [...] will want to honour and mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth II”, this event “will create some complications for businesses with store closures”. 

“There will also be a small but unexpected loss of trade, and additional staffing costs, which may impact cash flow for small businesses”. 

The ARA is also seeking clarification from state and territory governments.  

Costs likely exaggerated 

According to AMP's chief economist, Shane Oliver, this single unexpected public holiday could slice 1.5 per cent off the September quarter GDP. 

But, in a written statement to InvestorDaily, Dr Oliver explained, “this is likely to be a massive exaggeration” as many businesses will still open, particularly those in the hospitality sector which are looking at a likely increase in trading volume.

“So while it may be a slight dampener on September quarter GDP, I suspect the impact will be trivial,” Dr Oliver said. 

“For businesses, it's a mixed blessing as for some it will add to costs — with any public holiday leave loading — which adds to inflationary pressure, but they may benefit the extra spending. Sectors that will benefit including retail, accommodation and hospitality. Travel may particularly benefit if people take the Friday off as an annual leave to get a four-day holiday,” he added.

Also addressing the parliament's disrupted sitting schedule, Dr Oliver said that while it may slow the government's legislative agenda, “this is unlikely to be a significant impact”.

Parliament is set to resume its duties in the last week of September. 

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja's career in journalism spans well over a decade across finance, business and politics. Now an experienced editor and reporter across all elements of the financial services sector, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies.