Mondayising holidays bill passes crucial vote

TRACY WATKINS
Last updated 20:21 13/03/2013

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The Kiwi love affair with the long weekend received a boost tonight after a bill moving Anzac Day and Waitangi Day to a Monday when they fall at the weekend passed a crucial hurdle by just one vote.

While not yet passed into law, tonight's vote of 61 votes to 60 suggests the Labour-sponsored bill should have sufficient support to make it through its remaining stages.

But the vote was not without acrimony - Opposition MPs heckled National MP Simon O'Connor after he read out a soldier's diary from Gallipoli and said Mondayising Anzac Day dishonoured the memory of war veterans.

"It's easy to turn this into a discussion of holidays and days off and how we might have a barbecue," Mr O'Connor told Parliament.

"Anzac Day is not a holiday and it should not be used as an excuse for a holiday, may they rest in peace."

Some MPs called out that reading the soldiers diary was "shameful".

The Holidays (Full Recognition of Waitangi Day and Anzac Day) Amendment bill was opposed by National and ACT but supported by the rest of Parliament.

National says the extra holidays will impose a $200 million burden on the economy and business but not all businesses are opposed - the Tourism Industry Association has lobbied MPs to support the legislation to boost domestic tourism.

New Zealand workers get 11 public holidays a year but when Anzac Day and Waitangi Day fall on a weekend they miss out on two of those days.

The first time either of those days falls on a weekend again is 2015.

National MP Jami-Lee Ross told Parliament the Returned Services Association representing war veterans opposed Monday-ising Anzac Day.

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