With the Matildas nearing the World Cup finals, discussions are heating up about the possibility of Australia declaring a national holiday in the event of the team’s victory in the upcoming finals on Sunday, August 20.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had pitched the proposal earlier this month but confirmed earlier this week that he plans to use this Wednesday’s national cabinet meeting to get the proposal over the line.
“Regardless of what happens, what we need to do is to have a proper celebration of the Matildas’ and their achievements,” Albanese told ABC Radio on Monday.
NSW Premier Chris Minns has already voiced his support for the public holiday, telling 2GB Radio, “If the Matildas win the semi-final and then win the World Cup final then yes we’ll pursue a public holiday in NSW.”
“Not just to celebrate the victory, but also to have a massive civic celebration and allow the Matildas to celebrate with the people of Sydney in what would be an amazing, life-changing, and unbelievable event in the state’s history,” he said.
However, not everyone is in favour of the proposal.
Nationals Party leader, David Littleproud, voiced his opposition to the idea of a public holiday if the Matildas secure a World Cup victory, arguing that it was “easy to call for a national holiday when someone else is paying for it.”
“Look, I don’t want to be Captain Killjoy on this but … I think business has a point here,” Littleproud told the ABC’s Insiders program.
“I think we’ve just got to understand that someone’s got to foot that bill and businesses out there are doing it tough. We live in a great nation – we can celebrate our wins – but we have to get on and pay the bills and make sure that the country keeps going.”
Barnaby Joyce has also shut down the idea, asking why a day off should be granted to celebrate one team’s success and not others.
“I think it’s a very good reason for the Matildas to have a day off. But look, why didn’t we have a day off after the Diamonds won [the Netball World Cup]?” he said on Sunrise.
“I mean that they would have just put just as much effort in as anybody else. When we go well in the Olympics, we’re gonna have a day off after that?”
Outside of politics, former Matildas goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri has also joined the critics, arguing that if Abanese truly wanted to show his support for the sport and its athletes, he should focus on addressing the inadequate wages for coaches and players across both the men’s and women’s A-Leagues.
The decision on the public holiday can only be made by the state governments. The last unforeseen public holiday was the national day of mourning to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II last September.