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Australia’s public holiday for Queen’s death sparks chaos from cancelled surgeries to cafe bookings

Public holiday CHAOS as snap move to give all of Australia the day off to pay tribute to the Queen disrupts Aussies’ plans – from cancelled surgeries to cafe bookings and penalty rates

  • Doctors and business leaders have slammed snap decision to have holiday 
  •  On Sunday it was announced September 22 will be day of mourning for Queen
  •  Doctors say that it will throw already stretched medical centres into havoc
  •  Business lobbies have also said it very short notice for many of their members 
  • Full coverage: Click here to see all our coverage of the Queen’s passing

Top doctors, business executives and other Aussies whose plans have been disrupted have lashed out at the announcement of the national public holiday next Thursday to honour the Queen’s passing. 

While most Australians welcomed the September 22 National Day of Mourning, announced by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Sunday, even the PM admitted on Monday morning that many details still need to be worked out. 

Mr Albanese told Sunrise that issues such as penalty rates, school closures and timetables for public transport will be ‘worked through’ by the states and territories in the coming days – but that the day should be like any other public holiday.

It was announced on Sunday that Thursday September 22 will be a national day of mourning for the passing of Queen Elizabeth

Mr Albanese defended hosting the ‘historic’ and ‘one-off’ occasion. 

‘The national day of mourning provides an opportunity for local government, for example, to organise events in their local communities,’ he said.

Professor Steve Robson, the president of doctors lobby group the Australian Medical Association, tweeted his displeasure at the sudden announcement of the holiday

Professor Steve Robson, the president of doctors lobby group the Australian Medical Association, tweeted his displeasure at the sudden announcement of the holiday 

Prof Robson said that the holiday will affect multiple bookings for medical consultations and procedures

Prof Robson said that the holiday will affect multiple bookings for medical consultations and procedures

Australian Medical Association president Steve Robson dropped a scathing tweet about the suddenness of the announcement.

Prof Robson indicated that the medical system is already being severely stretched

Prof Robson indicated that the medical system is already being severely stretched

‘Operations and lots of patient consultations booked that day, at a time when access is difficult. Thanks for dropping this at short notice, ‘ Professor Robson said. 

In reply to a Twitter user who said they had a family member booked in that day Prof Robson tweeted: ‘It’s very difficult to staff hospitals and practices at the best of times now. 

‘An unanticipated public holiday will make it very difficult to staff hospitals and clinics.’ 

Melbourne surgeon Dr Eric Levi tweeted that the suddenly announced holiday would affect his patients

Melbourne surgeon Dr Eric Levi tweeted that the suddenly announced holiday would affect his patients

Melbourne surgeon Eric Levi strongly supported this argument. 

‘Patients booked for clinics and theatres will be affected by this,’ he tweeted.

‘Our clinics and operating theatres are all already severely overbooked. Cancelling, postponing, reshuffling isn’t easy in an overloaded system.’

He also tweeted that ‘we don’t need another public holiday’.  

‘We can honour a person in a hundred other ways,’ he wrote.

‘We want to continue to work to deliver medical care to people who are booked to receive them. Health care is so overstretched right now that cancelling and reshuffling creates a ripple of mess.’

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, here seen signing a condolence book for the Queen's passing, has defended holding the 'historic' one-off holiday

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, here seen signing a condolence book for the Queen’s passing, has defended holding the ‘historic’ one-off holiday

Business lobby groups also criticised the short notice for the day off. 

Small Business Organisations Australia chief executive Alexi Boyd said the sudden imposition of a holiday would create havoc for many of her members that already had bookings made for that day

‘What do they do now, with less than two weeks notice?’ Ms Boyd she told The Australian. 

‘Those reliant on tight supply chains and logistics for daily stock are particularly concerned.’ 

Constitutional law expert and ardent monarchist Gray Connolly was not impressed with Prof Robson's displeasure

Constitutional law expert and ardent monarchist Gray Connolly was not impressed with Prof Robson’s displeasure

Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra told The Australian that the holiday would create ‘some complication for businesses with store closures, and staff scheduling challenges with many rosters set up weeks in advance’.

‘There will also be a small but unexpected loss of trade, and additional staffing costs, which may impact cashflows for some businesses, in particular small businesses,’ he said.

‘Store opening and closing directions are typically established by the states and territories, and we look forward to their direction early next week, so retailers can plan accordingly.’

Counter criticism for doctors

Doctors have expressed dismay at the snap decision to hold a holiday to mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth. 

However, not everyone was impressed with their stance.

Constitutional lawyer and ardent monarchist Gray Connelly noted on Twitter Prof Robson was an enthusiastic advocate of harsh Covid measures.   

‘A single day of national mourning for our late Queen is too much for AMA President  but months and months of lockdowns & school closures – that ruined people’s lives – was good public health practice,’ Mr Connelly tweeted.

It was an argument picked up by other twitter users.

‘You loved it during Covid,’ one wrote to Prof Robson.

‘Many of your members refused to see patients for months. Even though the patients wanted to be attended to. Didn’t notice you tweeting about patients inconvenience then. Nothing stopping your members seeing patients really. ‘

 

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