A national public holiday to celebrate the Matildas if they win the FIFA Women’s World Cup will be on the agenda when leaders meet later this week.
The Matildas have done what no Australian soccer team – men or women — have done before: secure a spot in the FIFA World Cup semi-final.
The golden girls are now just one game away from the all-important final and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has argued Australians should be rewarded with a day off if they are victorious.
“I’ve got to say this is something much more than just a sporting event,” Mr Albanese told ABC Sydney on Monday morning.
“Regardless of what happens, what we need to do is to have a proper celebration of the Matilda‘s and their achievements.”
But not everyone is a fan of the plan.
Nationals frontbencher Barnaby Joyce poured cold water over the idea when asked on Monday morning, questioning why we should have a day off to celebrate the success of one team and not another.
“I think it’s a very good reason or 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 told Seven’s 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?”
Mr Joyce’s comments echoed those from his leader, David Littleproud, on Sunday, who said employers could not afford the move.
“We’ve just got to be really careful, this taking days off, because ultimately somebody does pay. I mean, it‘s not a case of it’s for free.
“Somebody has to pay and it’s overwhelmingly the small businesses. And if I asked you, ‘do you want to pay for your colleagues to have a day off?’, you would probably say no.”
Public holidays can only be called by state governments.
The last public holiday agreed to by national cabinet was the national day of mourning to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II last September.
Mr Albanese stressed the world does not stop on a public holiday.
“I remember when we did the national day of mourning for the Queen … There was some of the fears about what would happen and small businesses had the biggest boost, if you’re in the hospitality industry, that it had for a very long period of time on that day,” he said.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said she wasn’t sure how much work would be done on the Monday following the final, if the Matildas won.
“I can tell you if people do as much work as you know, I managed to do on Sunday, the whole of the day was spent talking about that incredible penalty shootout with pretty much everyone I ran into.
“I don‘t think Australians will be doing much work the day after a Matildas win, if they win the whole World Cup.
“It would just be a day of hanging around the water cooler talking about how great it was, if people were at work.”
The Matilda’s will play England on Wednesday night in Sydney, with the winner taking on either Spain or Sweden in the grand final next Sunday.