Anzac Day remembers Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who died in battle. (Fairfax Media: Alex Ellinghausen)
Anzac Day 2020 falls on a Saturday, which means for most Australians, there will be no public holiday this year.
On Monday, April 27, people in NSW, NT, Queensland, SA, Tasmania and Victoria will need to head into the office (or living room, if they’re working from home), but workers in the ACT and Western Australia get a public holiday.
Next year, when Anzac Day falls on a Sunday, people in QLD, SA and NT will get a public holiday on Monday, April 26 and it will only be workers in NSW and Victoria dragging themselves into the office.
Why do ACT and WA get a day off?
The Anzac Day Public Holiday was first recognised by WA in 1972, as part of its Public and Bank Holidays Act.
The original legislation, passed in October 1972, states “when New Year’s Day, Anzac Day, or Christmas Day falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the next following Monday is also a public holiday and bank holiday.”
In December last year, ACT‘s Employment and Workplace Safety Minister Suzanne Orr announced that Monday following Anzac Day would be recognised as a public holiday in 2020.
In 2015, when Anzac Day last fell on a Saturday, there was no public holiday for Canberra residents.
Ms Orr said the decision would “allow all Canberrans to mark Anzac Day” and would bring the ACT in line with WA.
“Anzac Day is a historically and culturally significant time for many Canberrans and should be marked as a holiday for everyone,” she said.
“The ACT Government recognises this and is declaring this public holiday to allow Canberrans to reflect while spending quality time with friends and family.”
Why is it different when Anzac Day is on a Sunday?
Simply put, because it’s part of legislation in Queensland, SA and the NT.
Queensland‘s 1983 Holidays Act says, for Anzac Day, a public holiday will be observed on 25 April; or if 25 April is a Sunday the following Monday.
In SA, the Holidays Act has a similar provision.
“April will be a public holiday and bank holiday but when that day falls on a Sunday, that day and the following Monday will be public holidays and bank holidays,” it reads.
And in the Northern Territory, the Public Holidays Act 1981 says if April 25 falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is a public holiday — with no mention of Saturdays at all.
Why would Anzac Day not be a public holiday?
Most states don’t observe an Anzac Day public holiday because Anzac Day is always commemorated on the day it falls — with the dawn service, march, gunfire breakfast and associated events all held on April 25 every year.
Due to the nature of the day, and because Anzac Day events can’t be held on any other date, many states feel there is no need to add an additional public holiday.
Anzac Day remembers Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who died in battle, and April 25 marks the anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign of World War I.
Due to COVID-19, Anzac Day will look a bit different this year, but the Dawn Service at the Australian War Memorial will be broadcast live, without a crowd.
“Anzac Day is a sacred day for all Australians. It is an important time to remember the sacrifices of those who have gone before us, those who have laid down their lives or suffered great hardship to protect Australians’ way of life,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
When is the next public holiday?
The next public holiday in NSW, Tasmania, Victoria and SA is on June 8, for the Queen’s Birthday.
People in ACT get to take April 27 off work, and only have to wait until June 1, Reconciliation Day, for their next public holiday.
In the NT and Queensland, workers can take Monday, May 4 off for May Day.
And while WA gets Monday, April 27 off work for the additional Anzac Day public holiday, the next public holiday in their state falls on June 1: WA Day.