Peter Dutton hits out at PM over Matildas public holiday 'ego trip'

Aussies have been warned a snap public holiday for the Matildas could cost the economy $2 billion.

Pictured left is opposition Leader Peter Dutton and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on the right.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has slammed Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's plan to have a national public holiday if the Matildas win the World Cup. Pic: Getty

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has warned Australians that a national public holiday for a Matildas World Cup triumph could cost the economy $2 billion. Mr Dutton has slammed the public holiday proposal as an "ego trip" from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and insists there are better ways to capitalise on the incredible buzz the Matildas' World Cup campaign has generated around the nation.

The coalition leader announced that if the Liberals won the next election, they would commit $250 million in funding over four years, to be allocated to community sporting grounds across Australia. The coalition claims the boost to sporting infrastructure around the country would "capitalise on the national attention female sports are receiving" and boost female participation in sport.

FINGERS CROSSED: Image that will concern Matildas fans ahead of semi-final

HUGE OMEN: Telling Sam Kerr detail emerges ahead of England showdown

'NO RESPECT': Uproar over 'shameful' detail amid Matildas heroics

The funding won't be contingent on state and territory government investment but the coalition would encourage them to match the Commonwealth, bringing the total to $500 million. Mr Dutton echoed criticism from Nationals leader David Littleproud over the weekend that a snap public holiday would be detrimental to the local economy and would leave no "legacy impact" for sport around the country.

The Coalition says its proposed funding would benefit young girls and boys who face poor change room facilities and substandard sports infrastructure. "We are committed to this (facilities fund) proposal whether the Matildas win or lose the World Cup and we will be proud of them whether they win or fall short," Mr Dutton said in a statement.

"With the recent success of the Matildas, the Diamonds and our Women's Ashes Team, we are seeing a surge in interest in women's sport. We must harness this goodwill to build the sporting infrastructure that our young athletes need."

Coalition branded 'spoil-sports' after opposing public holiday

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said he was surprised by the Coalition's stance on a public holiday and accused them of being "spoil-sports". "The whole country has gotten behind the Matildas and if they win the World Cup ... this (holiday) option should definitely be on the table," he told ABC Radio.

Mr Albanese intends to discuss a national holiday with state and territory leaders when national cabinet meets on Wednesday. "We'll have a discussion if they win the final - I hope they do and the whole of Australia hopes they do," he told reporters. This is a phenomenon, it is something that's beyond sport."

Anthony Albanese watches the Matildas at the Women's World Cup. (Photo by Matt Roberts - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Anthony Albanese watches the Matildas at the Women's World Cup. (Photo by Matt Roberts - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

The Prime Minister's push for a public holiday has received backing in other quarters, with NSW Premier Chris Minns admitting his state would pursue a public holiday if the Matildas lift the World Cup trophy. "If the Matildas win the semi-final and then win the World Cup final, then yes we will pursue a public holiday in NSW. Not just to celebrate the victory but also to have a massive civic celebration and allow the Matildas to celebrate with the people of Sydney what will be an amazing, like, life-changing and unbelievable event in the state's history," he said on Monday.

Concerns a public holiday will be detrimental to the economy

Nationals leader David Littleproud has warned a national public holiday would be too expensive for small business. "I don't want to be captain killjoy on this, but look, I think business has a point here," he told ABC's 'Insiders' program. "It's easy to call for a national holiday when someone else is paying for it."

"I'm proud of the Matildas, I think every Australian is, and we're going to be riding it home on Wednesday night," he said. "We can celebrate our wins but we've got to get on and pay the bills and make sure that the country keeps going."

The Prime Minister says the same concerns were raised when when a national day of mourning was organised in the wake of the death of Queen Elizabeth II. "Some said that that was something that would cause economic disruption. What that did, of course, was lead to increased economic activity in a whole lot of businesses, particularly small businesses," Mr Albanese said. "It actually benefited a whole range of those businesses."

When do the Matildas play England in World Cup semi-final?

The Matildas - having made history by winning through to a World Cup semi-final for the first time ever - now turn their attention to trying to topple European champions, England. The Aussies will battle their old enemy on Wednesday night at 8pm in front of a sold-out Stadium Australia in Sydney for a place in the final.

"I genuinely believe this team can create history in so many ways, not just winning football games but in the way they can inspire the next generation and unite the nation. That is why I believe in them so much," Australia coach Tony Gustavsson said after his side's quarter-final victory over France.

The Matildas coach revealed star striker and captain Sam Kerr would start if she is fully fit to play 90 minutes against England but said his main focus is getting his players mentally prepared for the biggest game of their lives. "It is more about making sure we are mentally and physically prepared for the semi-final coming up. These players are on a mission."

with AAP

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.