Queen Elizabeth death: Grant Robertson confirms Government seeking views on public holiday as politicians react

The following story is an article posted to Newshub.co.nz on September 12th 2022.


Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson says the Government is consulting with other political parties about a potential public holiday to mark the Queen's death - the latest hint that a day off for Kiwis is likely.

Following the death of the 96-year-old monarch last week, public holidays have been announced in Australia and the United Kingdom to commemorate the Queen's life. The Brits will have their bank holiday next Monday (UK Time) on the same day as the funeral, while the Australian holiday will be on September 22, coinciding with a memorial service.

New Zealand's Cabinet will on Monday afternoon consider whether a public holiday is held here. If it gets the go-ahead, it's likely to be held on the same day as a state memorial service.

Speaking to AM on Monday morning, Robertson said the Government was consulting other political parties about a public holiday and looking at what's happening around the world. 

A spokesperson for the National Party leader Christopher Luxon said the party "would support a public holiday", but ACT - which has been consistently against additional public holidays - has come out opposed. Winston Peters, the leader of New Zealand First, which currently isn't in Parliament, also isn't in favour.

"We've obviously been speaking to the likes of the National Party who appear to hold a different view than ACT," said Robertson. "Also, if we look around the world, the UK is doing this in terms of a public holiday, so is Australia. I believe Canada is considering something similar. We have to bear all these different points of view in mind."

"I do think New Zealanders need the opportunity to be able to mourn and to be able to commemorate this extraordinary life and the role that the Queen has played. So we'll work our way through those issues, but I do think this is a pretty special occasion covered."

In a statement on Monday morning, ACT leader David Seymour said his party cannot support "yet another public holiday" during a "cost of living crisis". His party previously opposed the Government's introduction of a holiday for Matariki.

"New Zealanders are feeling the loss of the Queen, she was a true leader who selflessly served the Commonwealth every day of her life. The Government should be asking itself, though, is it fair to put another $450 million of costs onto business in the middle of a cost of living crisis?

"Treasury estimate an extra public holiday costs $450 million. We doubt the Queen, who was famous for being a careful spender, would endorse such extravagance when people are struggling to make ends meet."

Robertson told AM the $450m figure doesn't take into account the money Kiwis would spend "out in the community" on a public holiday.

Peters released a statement titled: "Keep calm and carry on."

"The last thing the Queen would expect is for us to have another day off when our economy and businesses are in such a fragile state," the NZ First leader said.

"The cost of yet another holiday would be over $400 million to the economy. New Zealand had one of the longest lockdowns through COVID – second only to the Australian state of Victoria.  The economic loss for that cost this country billions. Show some common sense."

BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope told RNZ a public holiday would be a "bridge too far".