There are few things Aussies relish more than a public holiday, and if you’ve been working through the coronavirus pandemic, you might be looking forward to your next one. But what happens when a public holiday falls on a weekend?
When Easter, Christmas, Australia Day, the Queen’s Birthday or Labour Day land on a Saturday or Sunday, we get the following Monday off as an ‘observed holiday’ (otherwise known as when it’s marked on a day other than the actual event’s anniversary date).
However, this is not the case for Anzac Day.
While Anzac Day is still officially listed as a national public holiday, when it falls on a weekend, it does not automatically attract a day off during the week for every state.
Last year, Anzac Day fell on Saturday, 25 April. The only two states that had a public holiday on Monday, 27 April were Western Australia and the ACT. That meant for New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania, there was no public holiday in 2020.
“Anzac Day is celebrated [commemorated] on 25 April each year, regardless of on which day it falls. For many years, no replacement holiday was given if Anzac Day fell on a weekend (except in Western Australia),” according to Public Holidays Global.
“However, this is beginning to change as states gradually add replacement dates to their holiday calendars.”
Do we get a public holiday on Monday for Anzac Day in 2021?
While New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania do not get a public holiday in any case due to their individual public holiday acts, Queensland, South Australia, and the Northern Territory do get an additional day off on the Monday if Anzac Day falls on a Sunday.
This will be the case for 2021, when Anzac Day will fall on Sunday 25 April.
That means this year, only New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania will not get a public holiday while all other states will, as Canberra is also granting a day observed.
Why do Western Australia and the ACT get a public holiday for Anzac Day?
Western Australia is the only state that gives a public holiday for Anzac Day if it falls on a weekend, as per their Public And Bank Holidays Act 1972.
“When New Year’s Day, Anzac Day, or Christmas Day falls on a Saturday or Sunday the next following Monday is also a public holiday and bank holiday,” the section states.
Canberra last year announced they were granting a public holiday for Anzac Day on Monday, 27 April, despite all commemorations still taking place on Saturday, 25 April.
“Anzac Day is a historically and culturally significant time for many Canberrans and should be marked as a holiday for everyone,” Employment and Workplace Safety minister Suzanne Orr told the Canberra Times.
“The ACT Government recognises this and is declaring this public holiday to allow Canberrans to reflect while spending quality time with friends and family.”
Why don’t all states get a public holiday for Anzac Day in 2021?
The main reason Anzac Day doesn’t attract a public holiday if it falls on the weekend is due to the history and nature of the day. Anzac Day is a day to commemorate those who lost their lives in service, and as such, this can take place on any day, including a weekend.
“Anzac Day is when Australia comes together to recognise all those who have served our nation, and pay tribute to the sacrifice of more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in the service of our country,” Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Darren Chester, said.
The Australian Government is dedicated to honouring the service and sacrifice of our military personnel, veterans and their families and recognise the contribution our military families have made to our nation.
Will the states who get a public holiday for Anzac Day ever change?
The last time Anzac Day fell on a Saturday was in 2015 and there was a push in New South Wales for a public holiday to be granted. The last time it fell on a Sunday was in 2010.
However the idea, put forward by the Greens, who stated the Baird government at the time had the power to grant an additional day under the Public Holidays Act 2010, was labelled “madness”.
“You can’t just decide to make up a new public holiday a fortnight out from the event,” NSW Business Chamber chief executive officer, Stephen Cartwright, told the SMH at the time.
“Anzac Day is a very special day for Australians as it commemorates the landings at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, and we rightly pause and take time to reflect on that day, whatever day of the week it happens to fall on each year.”
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