12 September 2022

A one-off public holiday for the Queen isn't the only change you need to take note of

| James Coleman
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Flags being lowered

Australian flags at half mast at Australian Parliament House in tribute to Queen Elizabeth. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The death of our head of state, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, set in motion a chain of events across the Commonwealth that mark the end of one sovereign’s reign and the beginning of another.

Flags have been flying at half-mast across Canberra since the news broke on Friday morning, only rising from 12 pm to dusk on Sunday, 9 September, for the accession of His Majesty King Charles III.

As the Queen’s body reaches London this morning (13 September) on board a Royal Air Force aircraft, Australia is preparing for a National Day of Mourning ahead of next week’s funeral.

READ ALSO Public service told there would be no holiday for Queen’s death

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese declared Thursday, 22 September, a one-off national public holiday to commemorate Her Majesty’s life and dedication to service.

A National Memorial Service will be held at 11 am in the Great Hall at Parliament House and will begin with one minute’s silence. Protocol dictates it be held a day after the Prime Minister and Governor General return from the funeral in London.

“I encourage all Australians, wherever you may be, to take time to pause and reflect on Her Majesty’s extraordinary life of service,” Prime Minister Albanese said.

“This is a once-in-our-lifetime event.”

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr echoed the Prime Minister’s message.

“The Prime Minister has announced that the National Memorial Day for Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday 22 September will be a one-off public holiday,” he tweeted.

However, the announcement has been met with confusion by public service, private businesses, schools and health services.

Public service departments were initially told in a statement that “the national day of mourning will not be a public holiday” in Australia and that schools would stay open.

READ MORE ‘A life of service’: Canberrans remember their Queen

The Canberra Business Chamber says smaller businesses already struggling with rising costs and staff absenteeism will find the sudden public holiday “quite challenging”.

“There is a group of businesses that stand to benefit from increased demand on the day, but we’re talking to more of those businesses who are really struggling to meet the demand they already have,” CEO Graham Catt told Region.

“But business is all about planning at the end of the day, and we have 10 days to make arrangements.”

APH gun salute

A 96-gun salute marked the Queen’s death at Parliament House on Friday, 9 September. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Essential medical services will remain open on the day, but the impacts on elective surgeries and other appointments are still uncertain.

“We will be looking at how we can adjust on the days and weeks around that to ensure that everyone who did have appointments on that day will be able to be supported to get their health care as quickly as possible,” ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said.

Canberra Health Services will release a statement later today.

Parliament will meet on 23 September, the day after the public holiday, so MPs and senators can pay their respects with condolence speeches. It will then reconvene as normal between 26 and 28 September.

In accordance with Australian flag protocol, the Australian National Flag will continue to be flown at half-mast until the day after the funeral. Vice-regal flags, such as those at Government House, will remain at full mast to represent the continuity of the monarchy.

READ MORE ueen’s passing opens way for the republic to be revisited

It’s understood the Queen’s Birthday public holiday on the second Monday of June will remain, but as it didn’t fall on Queen Elizabeth II’s actual birthday, the name will change to King’s Birthday. The day’s honours will become the King’s Birthday Honours.

Treasury confirmed existing coins bearing the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II will also remain in circulation and remain legal tender. However, it’s understood new coins using an image of King Charles III supplied by the UK Royal Mint are in the works.

$5 note

The $5 note, depicting Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, will live on for now. Photo: Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).

Since her coronation in 1953, six likenesses of the Queen have appeared on the obverse side of Australian coins, the last of them struck in 2018 and all facing right.

An image of King Charles III will face left, continuing a royal tradition said to have started under Charles II in 1660. This stipulates a new monarch faces the opposite direction to their predecessor in their profile portrait on coins.

READ MORE We did but see her passing by: Canberra mourns the death of Queen Elizabeth II

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) said there will be no immediate change to the Queen’s depiction on the $5 banknote either.

“The $5 banknotes featuring the image of Her Majesty The Queen … will not be withdrawn and are likely to remain in circulation for years to come,” the RBA said.

“Creating the design for new banknotes is a complex process.

“It can be several years when a banknote is printed and when it is issued into circulation depending on demand from the public and the need to replace banknotes that have become worn in circulation.”

The Queen’s state funeral will be held at 11 am on Monday, 19 September, at Westminster Abbey in London. After that, her body will be taken to St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle to be buried with her husband, Prince Philip.

The funeral will be broadcast live in Australia on Monday night from 8 pm AEST.

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Someone in Vic decided they wanted a longer long weekend. AFL being on the 23rd and a public holiday for Victorians.

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