WAGGA Business Chamber president and city councillor Julian McLaren yesterday poured cold water on the notion of introducing a half-day public holiday for future Gold Cup meetings.
Following the same model as Albury City Council, which implements a public holiday at lunchtime on cup day, the idea has come to attention again this week after the Murrumbidgee Turf Club attracted 9000 race goers through the gates on Friday.
The idea has been floated to boost crowd attendances for Gold Cup Day next year.
However, councillor McLaren agrees with Wagga mayor Rod Kendall, who believes closing down the city for half a day would be counterproductive to businesses trying to promote the region.
“I think it goes against what we’re trying to do in promoting Wagga. Obviously it’s one of the biggest events on our calendar but it’s a bit counter productive to attract people to Wagga and then close down the town on one of its biggest days for businesses,” Cr McLaren told The Daily Advertiser yesterday.
“It’s a bad look for visitors and I definitely wouldn’t support it.”
The Wagga City councillor explained the impact on small businesses would be “detrimental” with the introduction of penalty rates for workers.
Cr McLaren believes keen race goers are inclined to ask for the day off, with or without a holiday.
“It would have a detrimental effect on local businesses. They’d be subject to penalty rates which would increase their costs,” he said.
“The MTC is already getting towards capacity at the moment. Of course they could take a few more people, but it just becomes inconvenient.
“We have to be realistic. People that go to the races I think will ask for the day off anyway, but racing isn’t for everyone.
“I think we leave it to people to organise themselves.”
Cr McLaren said he attended the MTC for Town Plate on Thursday, but didn’t venture to the Gold Cup.
“They do have a great set up down there and it is a great thing for Wagga,” he said.