Anthony Albanese announced on Sunday that Australia will observe a bank holiday on September 22 following the monarch’s funeral on September 19.
The news quickly drew criticism from healthcare professionals who say the short-notice nature of the bank holiday will cause huge disruption to their sector where consultations and operations are arranged weeks and sometimes months in advance.
The Australia Medical Association president Steve Robson tweeted: “Operations and lots of patient consultations booked that day, at a time when access is difficult. Thanks for dropping this at short notice.”
Operations and lots of patient consultations booked that day, at a time when access is difficult.
Thanks for dropping this at short notice.🙄 https://t.co/2JYU5CPKvf
— AMA President (@amapresident) September 11, 2022
He added: “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.”
Head and neck surgeon Eric Levi also expressed frustration with the short notice of the bank holiday, saying he had eight patients booked in for surgery on September 22.
“We have 60 plus patients booked in our cancer clinic in the morning,” he posted to Twitter.
“I have 8 patients booked for theatre. Every single patient has waited weeks to months for their medical care. Every clinic and operating lists overbooked till December. What do we do for them?”
We have 60 plus patients booked in our cancer clinic in the morning. I have 8 patients booked for theatre. Every single patient has waited weeks to months for their medical care. Every clinic and operating lists overbooked till December. What do we do for them? https://t.co/B2L0nqdJe0
— Dr Eric Levi (@DrEricLevi) September 11, 2022
Dr Levi added: “For those who say ‘stay open’, remember that we need nurses, allied health, clerks, technicians, etc to run a clinic or operating list.
“If schools and childcare are closed, a lot of the health care workers can’t turn up to work and health care won’t run.
“Imagine if your chemotherapy was meant to be delivered that day and now there are not enough doctors and nurses in the clinic as they have to be home with their kids because schools and childcare is closed.”
On September 22 there will be a public holiday for the National Day of Mourning for Her Majesty The Queen.
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) September 10, 2022
Australian retail and business groups joined medical professionals in raising concerns about disruptions caused by the unplanned bank holiday.
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said it respected the decision of the federal government to “honour the passing of Queen Elizabeth II with a one-off public holiday”, but the unplanned nature of the bank holiday would create disruption for many businesses and impact them financially
In a statement on Monday the ARA chief executive, Paul Zahra, said: “This event will create some complications 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 small businesses.”
The managing director of Market Economics, Stephen Koukoulas, meanwhile, said that according to his “quick calculations”, the short-notice bank holiday would cost the Australian economy 1.5bn dollars (£882m).
On Sunday, King Charles III was officially proclaimed as Australia’s new head of state with ceremonies taking place at Government House and Parliament House in Canberra.
King Charles III has been proclaimed as Australia’s new head of state. Ceremonies took place today at Government House and Parliament House in Canberra. pic.twitter.com/aiFjbSA9aE
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) September 11, 2022
Memorial events have been held in recent days throughout Australia, which the Queen visited 16 times during her 70 years on the throne, with floral tributes springing up outside government buildings in Sydney and Canberra.
The sails of the Sydney Opera House, which Her Majesty helped open in 1973, were lit up with the Queen’s image on Friday and Saturday as the world continued to mourn.
Most of the events are being coordinated by federal authorities in the Australian Capital Territory.
Federal parliament, which had been due to return next week, has also been suspended and will now reconvene on Friday 23 September to move a condolence motion, Mr Albanese announced on Monday.
Flags at Parliament House in Canberra were flown at half mast as a show of respect on Friday as the Australian Defence Force led a 96-gun salute at dusk, followed by an address to the nation by Mr Hurley that began at about 7pm (10am BST).
At the nearby Australian War Memorial, which the Queen visited during the first visit by a reigning monarch in 1954, “Queen Elizabeth II” was projected on to the Hall of Memory on Friday night.
Condolence books have been made available at Parliament House and Government House in Canberra.
Books are also open at government houses in each state, and online condolence forms have also been created on the governor-general and department of the prime minister and cabinet websites.
Elsewhere, New Zealand said it will mark the Queen’s death with a public holiday on Monday September 26.
The nation will also hold a state memorial service in the capital, Wellington, on the same day.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Queen was an extraordinary person and many would appreciate the opportunity to mark her death and celebrate her life.
“As New Zealand’s Queen and much-loved sovereign for over 70 years, it is appropriate that we mark her life of dedicated public service with a state memorial service and a one-off public holiday,” Ms Ardern said.
She also said New Zealand will not pursue becoming a republic following the Queen’s death, and that she will leave for Britain this week for the former monarch’s funeral.