Sense from Andrew Little

March 28th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Easter Sunday – it’s quiet. But next year it could be bustling.

Labour leader Andrew Little has expressed favour in allowing shops to trade on the weekend, but he had a few concerns.

“I wouldn’t object to a law that allowed trading on Easter Sunday, providing the right of the worker to genuinely opt-out,” he said.

That’s great. Such a sensible position.

The union movement insists that employers are evil and no matter what the law says, will force employees to work on Easter (ignoring they already work Easter Saturday and Monday).

Little seems to be saying what I advocate – if an employer wishes to open, an employee wishes to earn some extra money and customers wish to shop, then the law should not make that illegal.

The amendment to allow councils to create bylaws and decide for their areas was “wrong in principle”. Little believed the laws should apply nationally.

My preference is for there to be no ban on shops opening nation-wide.

But allowing each Council to decide is preferable to the status quo of a few historic areas being allowed to open, while others can’t.

Ultimately, Little was prepared to run with public sentiment on the issue, as long as Kiwis could decline to work.

“The bottom line is you’ve got to protect the right of workers to genuinely opt-out and not be subject to stigma and pressure.”

The Labour Party would make be making a conscience vote on the legislation, meaning each member would vote individually.

Why not put up an amendment to allow Easter trading nationally, in return for penalties on employers who coerce employees to work?

Good Friday 2016

March 25th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Today is the 1,983rd (or 1986th) anniversary of the crucifixion of Jesus. There is overwhelming historical evidence that this occurred. What happened next is open to more debate, but the crucifixion has been well established.

A fixed date for Easter

January 17th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The heads of the Christian churches are close to sealing a deal to fix the date of Easter, the Archbishop of Canterbury has revealed, ending more than a thousand years of confusion and debate.

The Church of England’s Archbishop of Canterbury Most Reverend Justin Welby said the agreed date would be either the second or third Sunday of April.

A fixed date would be great. So annoying to have to check every year when it will be.

He expected to make the change within 5-10 years, though he admitted that churches have been trying to agree on a date without success since the tenth century.

Progress takes time!

Archbishop Welby, Pope Francis, the Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (head of the Greek Orthodox church) are all working towards a common date, he said.

If they can reach a deal, it will end one of the most noticeable rifts in the church, and have knock-on effects for schools, businesses and the travel industry across the Western World.

For one and a half millennia, for Anglicans and Catholics, Easter Sunday has been the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox – a convoluted formula which means the date can vary by more than a month from year to year. …

To add to the confusion, the Eastern Orthodox Church calculates Easter differently using the old Julian calendar – this year Orthodox Easter falls on May 1.

No one knows the actual date Jesus was crucified, so having it commemorated on a particular date close to the general period is as likely to be accurate as the current system.

Saner Easter Sunday trading law coming

August 25th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Michael Woodhouse has announced:

The Government is to enable local communities, through councils, to decide whether retailers can open on Easter Sunday, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse announced today.

“The current rules around shop trading over the Easter period are complex and relatively arbitrary. The law allows certain shops selling specific items to remain open, while others must close their doors.

“It also includes several historical exemptions which allow shops in areas such as Queenstown and Taupo to open on Easter Sunday, while those in Wanaka and Rotorua cannot.”

“The result is that some businesses and regions have an unfair advantage over others, and there is a demand from communities across the country to allow for shop trading on Easter Sunday.

“The proposed law change will enable communities to choose whether or not to allow trading. It will mean regions, especially tourist areas, can respond where there is strong demand for Easter Sunday trading,” Mr Woodhouse says.

The current law is a nonsense. Sadly all attempts at reform by members’ bills have failed due to an unholy collusion between unions and churches. So very pleased to see the Government taking action, to improve the ridiculous status quo.

“In addition, the law change will give workers the opportunity to decline to work or accept work if they wish to on that day – with no reason necessary.

And this I support. It is about allowing workers to earn extra money – if they wish to do so, and retailers to open if they want to do so, and shoppers to shop if they wish to do so. But no one is forced to do anything.

Only changes to Easter Sunday are being proposed. Mr Woodhouse says this reflects the added religious and cultural significance attached to Good Friday, Anzac Day and Christmas, that remain subject to restrictions.

A step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.

For Easter, we should allow trading on all four Easter days of Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter (Sunday) and Easter Monday. But I’d also have all four as public holidays which they attract penal rates, and also that any employee can decline to work on those days. That would actually give employees more flexibility (they currently have to work Holy Saturday and Easter Monday if asked) and more pay (penal rates would apply for all four days, not just Good Friday and Easter Monday). So this would benefit employees, but also benefit retailers who could open for the whole long weekend – if they wanted to.

Happy Easter

April 5th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Today is Easter, sometimes called Resurrection Sunday, which celebrates the Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In Western Christianity it falls between 22 March and 25 April inclusive, within a week of the full moon.

Have a relaxing Easter.

Labour inspector priorities

June 7th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Hamish Rutherford at Stuff reports:

Active monitoring of Easter trading law breaches may be scrapped in favour of giving labour inspectors more time to investigate migrant worker exploitation.

While it is illegal for most businesses to operate on Good Friday and Easter Sunday except in certain tourist areas, many take the risk of a fine and open anyway.

Labour inspectors conduct checks on which businesses are open and also respond to complaints.

Labour Minister Simon Bridges signalled yesterday that in the future officials may rely solely on complaints because inspection staff were needed elsewhere.

“There are some very serious issues in relation to migrant workers and exploitation in this country,” he said.

“It is a question of using our resources and the labour inspectorate better.”

This could mean “not necessarily having inspectors out on every corner on Easter trading weekends, enforcing the laws”, he said.

“I don’t think, and my sense is, New Zealanders wouldn’t necessarily want us to be over-enforcing that, having inspectors out there all the time.”

Hear, hear. Acting on complaints received is one thing, but sending the holiday police proactively around shops is too zealous.

And I agree that abuse of some migrant workers is a far bigger issue.

Darien Fenton, Labour’s spokeswoman for labour issues, said migrant exploitation affected thousands of people, especially in Auckland.

The number of inspections was “far from satisfactory” with only 35 inspectors covering the entire country.

However, she was unimpressed that resources may be taken away from policing Easter trading, saying it was “tacit approval” of law breaking.

I don’t want to see any worker exploited, and actually, requiring people to work on Easter Sunday is exploitation of the law.”

This could be out of an Orwell novel. No employer can legally force staff to work on Easter Sunday. But some employees volunteer to work because they want to earn extra money. Darien is against employees being able to earn higher wages!

Dom Post on Easter Trading

April 27th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

National MP Tau Henare’s plan for a private member’s bill allowing shops to open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday will be the ninth attempt in 15 years to bring some sense to trading laws long past their sell-by date.

This time, Parliament should seize the opportunity to repeal rules which are archaic and riddled with anomalies to the point of being ridiculous.

However, there is little to indicate the Government will have the courage to lead the way.

If history is anything to go by, Mr Henare’s bill will be considered as a conscience vote and fail at its first hurdle, defeated by the usual – and unusual – alliance of Labour, National and Green MPs. Those who vote against it will do so on the grounds of guarding workers’ rights or protecting the sanctity of the most important festival in the Christian calendar – or, in some cases, both.

The unholy alliance of unions and churches.

The list of anomalies is as laughable as it is long. A person can buy or sell a house on Good Friday or Easter Sunday, when real estate agents are allowed to open, but they cannot buy a bottle of bubbly to celebrate – unless they get it from the vineyard on which it was made.

A garden centre can open on Easter Sunday, but not Good Friday – a rule ignored by many as the huge demand easily brings in more than the $1000 fine. Bookstores at airports, train stations and other transport hubs can open, but those in shopping centres must stay closed. Perhaps most glaringly of all, brothels can open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday to sell sex, but those with bars are breaking the law if they sell alcohol.

It is hilarious that brothels can open, but not bars. I wonder if the brothels can sell alcohol?

The usual suspects defend their decisions to ban employees from earning overtime on those days, on the proposition that employers are so evil and callousthey they will break the law and force employees to work against their wills.

On Twitter the other day I asked a Labour activist if he could name a single employer that has done this. I said I’ve worked for around 20 employers and none forced me to work against my will. He also was unable to name a single employer – saying none of his former employers had. But he insisted that it was widespread all the same. Never mind the lack of emperical evidence.

But this got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be useful if the Government or Dept of Labour did a random scientific survey of employees in retailers, to ascertain how many currently have employers who force them to work on days they don’t want to, and also perhaps to look at annual leave taking – do they get to choose when to take annual leave, or does their employer over-ride their wishes.

It would be a great boon to informed debate to have some good data about how employees and employers currently interact.

Editorials 8 April 2010

April 8th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald calls for transparency over MPs legal expenses:

Taxpayers have a right to know how their dollars are being spent. That includes the allowances paid to the country’s parliamentarians for accommodation or travel, as some MPs have learned to their discomfort over the past year or so. It should also include the use of public money to cover legal costs when parliamentarians are sued. …

Clearly, there are occasions when it is legitimate for MPs’ legal bills to be paid with public money. Parliamentarians should act vigorously on behalf of their constituents. …

Yet but for the publication of documents by the New Zealand Herald and an admission by Dr Smith of the use of some public funding, taxpayers would have been none the wiser about either of the requests for reimbursement or their granting or denial.

The Prime Minister, John Key, said yesterday that taxpayers were entitled to know that money from the public kitty was being used for MPs’ legal costs, and that he would be open to such information being made public. That is a refreshing outlook, and one that indicates Mr Key is fully aware of the harsh spotlight on MPs’ expenses and allowances, both here and in Britain.

As I blogged, I’d include it in the six monthly expense reports.

The Dominion Post also wants more transparency, but around a health spending scandal:

Unacceptable. There is no other word for the situation that police claim has developed with Waikanae’s Te Runanga O Te Ati Awa Ki Whakarongotai, its health-provider arm Hora Te Pai and Capital & Coast District Health Board.

Stripped to its essentials, the police allege that money that was meant to be spent improving health has been siphoned off into other areas.

Regardless of the final outcome of the police inquiries, that is no way to manage $590,000 of taxpayers’ money. It is public money, and the handling of it should be transparent, with the details of where it is or what it has been spent on readily available.

I agree. Phil Kitchin does an invaluable job in expsoing their spending scandals. But we should not have to rely on him.

As I have said previously, I’d do what some US states do and have the entire cheque register for the Government put online. People could then file OIAs about spending that looks dodgy.

The Press says the dam decision is a close call:

The benefits from building a hydro dam on the Mokihinui River, north of Westport, are obvious.

It would, by using a resource that on the West Coast is endlessly renewable, give the region enough electricity to power 45,000 homes.

The dam would not only supply most of the region’s electricity needs in an undeniably carbon-zero way, it would also end the reliance on a long and vulnerable transmission line that brings the area’s present power supply from the Waitaki. Supply would not only be more secure, it would be more efficient and West Coast electricity prices, at present some of the highest in the country, would be lower.

Which is why many locals support it.

The proposal would require a 85-metre high, 300m wide dam across the river that would create a narrow, 14 kilometre long lake covering 340 hectares. Meridian says that the impact would be minor and it has made a considerable effort to make sure they are kept to a minimum. No endangered species are threatened, it says. In addition, the resource consents Meridian has received have more than 200 conditions attached to them to further reduce the impact. Nonetheless, according to the objectors, a precious, irreplaceable part of the landscape will be irretrievably changed. …

But the country cannot afford to have decisions like this one made on emotion and sentiment. Electricity demand is growing by 2 per cent a year, equivalent to the needs of a city the size of Dunedin. The two-to-one vote on this scheme shows that the commissioners’ approval was not easily arrived at but it was made, as it must be under the Resource Management Act, after rigorously detached consideration of all the arguments. In this case the commissioners decided the development’s impact on the environment are not bad enough to block the project.

I’ve blogged on this separately also.

And the ODT looks at Easter trading:

Parliament, as it so often does, tried to design a horse with its legislative provisions controlling private enterprise during Easter, and instead produced a camel.

A particulary stupid camel, that has a limp.

There is nothing about the regulations that can in 2010 be considered just and necessary, let alone reflective of contemporary society.

The creation of geographic exemptions to trading on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, meaning some places can open their doors while others must close – backed by farcically small penalties – is simply unjustly partial. …

The Muldoon National government passed the legislation in 1980 which provided for shops to be open on Saturdays, and also broadened the range of heavily restricted goods able to be sold on Sundays.

The world did not come to a halt as a result; indeed, apart from the predictable complaints from the unions, the public in general welcomed the measure, which also signalled the decade’s major social change – the end of the five-day, 40-hour working week.

And one day when we have sensible laws around Easter, we will look back with bemusement over how long it took us to do it.

It is time for the matter to be settled and the only way that will happen is to abandon the so-called “personal vote” in Parliament and achieve suitable legislation by way of a Government Bill.

Whether John Key’s administration has the fortitude to do so, or is prepared to risk the undoubted wrath of church and union, is arguable: Mr Key agrees the present regulations are a shambles and would like them to be liberalised, and he has voted accordingly in the past.

It is time for a national solution: declaring Easter Sunday to be a public holiday would protect workers’ wage levels, and sending a Bill to a select committee would ensure public opinion – more accurately reflecting the times in which we live rather than electorate pressure on individual MPs – could be canvassed.

I’m a big supporter of change, and have myself mooted a trade off of making all of Easter public holidays in exchange for removign the trading restrictions.

But I am reluctant to have this become a party whipped issue. I think MPs should have freedom of choice on this.

Having said that, I note that Labour have almost adoped a party line on the issue, so maybe in time National will also.

Editorials 7 April 2010

April 7th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald weighs up large trucks on roads:

According to the Ministry of Transport, trucks carrying heavier loads on our roads “will help to improve road safety, while reducing road congestion, operating costs and vehicle emissions”.

The statement is a highly contrary one to critics of the move, who foresee only an increased threat to safety. They are apt to point out that trucks are involved in 16 per cent of all road fatalities despite comprising only 4 per cent of the vehicle fleet.

The MOT rationale is I presume that it is safer to have a fewer number of heavier trucks on the road, than a larger number of lighter trucks.

Allowing trucks to carry loads of up to 53 tonnes – an increase from the present limit of 44 tonnes – from next month can only, they say, make matters worse.

Basic physics supports their view. Heavier trucks will take longer to stop, thereby creating heightened danger for any motorist caught in their path.

That individual truck may be more dangerous, but it does not mean the trucking fleet as a whole will be more dangerous.

But physics are not uppermost in the ministry’s mind when it talks of safety. It hangs its hat on the productivity equation – that a given amount of freight will be carried on fewer trucks.

Safer roads, it says, will be the product of an estimated 20 per cent decrease in the number of trips by trucks, as will be an increase of productivity of between 10 and 20 per cent.

I’d rather have fewer trucks on the road, even if they are heavier.

The Dom Post looks at Auckland Mayors today:

Aucklanders sometimes wonder why the rest of the country rolls its eyes when contemplating shenanigans in the City of Sails.

Sunday newspaper reports about the behaviour of North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams illustrate why. He has been accused of public drunkenness, urinating in a public place and driving the mayoral car after he had been drinking one night. …

The mayor has built for himself a reputation of volatility and irascibility, particularly when his will is crossed. Still, he won’t be North Shore mayor after October.

I suspect many North Shore residents are counting down the days.

Mr Williams says he will run for the super-city but won’t say if he’ll contest the mayoralty – probably the second-most-important political position in the country. If he does, he is unlikely to win. New Zealand might love its iconoclasts, but this job is too important to entrust to someone of his ilk.

Little risk there I would say.

The Press calls for Easter trading reform:

If there is one area of the law which is crying out for a thorough re-examination it is the Easter shop trading restrictions.

Once again over the past long weekend Labour Department inspectors were out and about, attempting to enforce a hotchpotch trading regime which is riddled with inconsistencies. …

Then there is the view that with liberal retailing hours at other times of the year it is not too much to reserve Good Friday and Easter Sunday as, generally, shopping-free days, along with Christmas Day and Anzac Day before 1pm.

Yet loosening the restrictions on Easter Sunday or even Good Friday would not compel New Zealanders to head to the cash register. Those who choose, instead, to spend time with family could still do so.

Provided there are safeguards to ensure that reluctant employees could not be coerced into working, then it is high time that the traditional justifications for trading restrictions be scrutinised to determine whether they remain relevant.

Absoultely. And once the change had been made, everyone will wonder why we didn’t do it years ago – just like weekend shopping.

The ODT focuses on the military:

While the air force’s lack of strike-force capability remains a joke, significant expense and effort has gone towards better equipping the navy and army – only for poor judgements and decision-making to undermine much of the progress. …

HMNZS Canterbury, the multi-role ship in this little fleet, had so many defects that manufacturer BAE Systems paid the Government $84.6 million to repair them.

A scathing independent review last year said the ship’s poor performance in high seas would now just have to be accepted. …

How disappointing that one of the army’s latest purchases did its best to outdo the worst of the navy’s larks.

The army spent $590,000 on bullets that were unfit for use in the army’s guns, and had to resell the ammunition for $350,000.

Not to be outdone in magnitude of waste, the army’s light operational vehicles were 63 months late, cost $37 million more than planned and had a string of difficulties.

Now the Government is looking at selling 35 of the 105 because it believes too many were bought.

It was obvious from the beginning we have too many LAVs.

My personal view is that without a strike capability, there is no reason to maintain the RNZAF as a separate service, and our remaining planes and choppers should be integrated into the Army and Navy.

Rudman on Easter

April 7th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The best reason I heard over Easter for repealing the shop trading restrictions, is it would deprive Newmarket Business Association CEO Cameron Brewer of a media opportunity!

In Wellington, the restrictions have little impact. Cafes are open. Restaurants are open. You can go to the movies. Lots of food on sale at dairies and garages. Bars are open. It is only a few retailers that are affected, and a bunch of them just open anyway and see the $1,000 fine as a cost of doing business.

Anyway Brian Rudman points out the silliness of the current laws:

On Good Friday and Easter Sunday it was perfectly legal for me to drive across town to the Royal Easter Show, gorge myself ill on candyfloss, and gamble away my money on such so-called games of skill as “Pluck a Duck” and “Flip a Frog”.

But woe betide the supermarket which dared open its doors to sell me a toilet – or bread – roll.

Once again we’ve been through the time that transcends all understanding, the annual Easter trading laws fiasco.

The two days a year when a weekend market on Wellington’s harbourside can open, but a farmers’ market in Hamilton is threatened with a fine of up to $1000 for each stall that opens.

A time when Parnell and Queenstown shops could open, but not their competitors in neighbouring Newmarket and Wanaka.

The law is a mess as it does not in fact help staff have an Easter break with their families, because Easter Saturday and Easter Monday are normal trading days.

And bizarrely if you do work Easter Sunday, it is not a public holiday, so you get paid nothing extra.

The status quo is in fact quite anti-worker. The unions resist any changes mainly because in some regards they are very conservative beats, that resist most changes.

Here’s what I would propose to get same sane laws over Easter:

  1. Declare all four days to be public holidays – Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Ester Day and Easter Monday.
  2. Law states no employee (except essential services) can be forced to work any of the four Easter days.
  3. No restrictions on any store opening
  4. If a store does not open, Any staff normally rostered on for those days of the week, get paid a normal days wages – as for all other public holidays
  5. If a store does open, staff who choose to work get penal rates (generally time and a half) and a day in lieu

This proposal is extremely generous to employees. It gives them two extra days of public holidays, gives them the right to choose to work on all four days (as the moment they have no choice if a store opens), and gives then public holiday pay rates on all four Easter days.

An employee who chooses to work on the four Easter days, would get effectively paid for 10 days – two weeks of income for four days work.

Edwards on Easter

April 10th, 2009 at 11:08 am by David Farrar

As I had my rant about Easter Trading on Wednesday, today I’ll merely quote from well known left voice – Brian Edwards:

If I were a retailer, I’d be pretty hacked off that in the middle of a recession, with punters keeping their hands firmly in their pockets, I was about to lose two days earnings. And all because a couple of thousand years ago a Jewish preacher and revolutionary was executed in Judea and, according to his supporters, rose from the dead two days later.

I thought it was three days later?

So somehow or other we have come to the position that stuffing your face with hamburgers, pizza or KFC, eating and drinking up large in a restaurant,  going to see No Country for Old Men (R16 Graphic Violence) at the flicks, or watching a rented porno, all constitute serving God, while buying plants or tools to tend your garden on Good Friday constitutes serving Mammon.  Though it’s no longer sinful on Easter Sunday.

Praise be to such a liberal God.

In the first place, religious belief  has no legitimate role to play in lawmaking. When and whether shops stay open must be solely a matter of industrial law and not of religious observance. Holy days and holidays must not be regarded as synonymous.

And Easter Sunday is not a public holiday. It is purely a religious day.

But if we are to have undemocratic and retrograde legislation, let it at least be consistent. Let’s not make absolute fools of ourselves by saying that it’s OK to make money renting videos, selling duty free watches and flogging pulp fiction at airports, but not OK to make money by selling someone a lemon tree or a spade to plant it with.

Either ban the lot and make us all wear sackcloth and ashes for two days, or give every trader and every potential customer the right to make up their own mind on what they’ll do at Easter. I’m for the latter. Let’s open the doors. Let’s breathe the fresh air of freedom. Let’s, for heaven’s sake, grow up!

I am sure there are many areas where I disagree with Dr Edwards, but this is not one of them.

My annual rant on Easter trading

April 8th, 2009 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

I doubt there is any law as inconsistent and illogical as our current Easter shop trading laws.

Let us start with the fact this law bans employees from being able to earn extra money. We’re in a recession and times are tough. A shop assistant  could earn say an extra $450 if they were allowed to work this Friday and Sunday. That would be enough money so they could then actually afford a holiday later in the year.

Then let us look at the fact Easter Sunday is not a public holiday. We have a law that bans you from being able to work on a day which is not even a public holiday. It is simply a religious day. Easter Monday is a public holiday and you are allowed to work that day, but in most cases not on Easter Sunday.

Some may claim the law allows people the weekend off. Apart from the fact that the law removes any choice from employees, it does not. People can be forced to work on Easter Saturday. Would it not be far superior to say have a law that says no employee (except essential services) can be forced to work over the four Easter days, but that they can do so if they wish. As present they can be forced to work on at least one of those days, and have no choice about working the other two.

Then we have the anomalies. Where do you start. How about a four square can not open but a Star Mart can? How about the fact a souvenir shop can open but a gift shop can not?  And the garden centre amendment that allowed them to open on Easter Sunday, but not Good Friday?

And that is before we even deal with regional anomalies. Shops in Queenstown can open, but not Wanaka. Taupo is okay, but not Rotorua.

The law is a mess. It is anti-worker and anti-choice. We have a law that stops many workers from being able to earn extra money – some of it as holiday and penal rates. It is nothing to do with protecting workers – it is about compelling them. Workers already have protection from being forced to work on protected days under the Act:

No worker shall be required to work on a protected day or at night. No undue influence shall be applied to any worker in an attempt to induce that worker to agree to work on a protected day or at night. No action shall be taken to discriminate against or disadvantage any worker not wishing to work on a protected day or at night.

Now again Easter Sunday is not a public holiday. It is a religious day. Removing from workers the ability to choose to work that day (if their employers wish to open) does not guarantee them Easter off – they can be forced to work Easter Saturday.

Rotorua MP Todd McClay has a private members bill that is a small step forward. It allows local communities to decide whether or not shops can open on Easter Sunday. Hopefully Parliament will do the right thing and not cave into to the unholy alliance between the religious right and the union left.

Views galore on Easter Trading

March 23rd, 2008 at 8:58 am by David Farrar

Where do I start. How about with the CTU:

“The current Easter Sunday trading restrictions ensure that retail workers have at least some ability to participate in the huge range of family, community and religious activities that take place around New Zealand over Easter,” said CTU secretary Carol Beaumont.

I find it interesting that given a choice between being pro-worker or anti-employer they go for anti-employer.

I would expect unions to strongly advocate for penal rates on public holidays, and to advocate that no employee should be forced to work on a public holiday, but why do unions campaign to make their own members poorer by removing the right for low paid workers to earn extra money by working? They claim they support higher wages for workers, yet support a law which prevents them from earning higher wages.

If a couple both on $15 an hour had the ability to volunteer to work on Good Friday, and they were not normally rostered on those days, then they could earn the equivalent of $37.50 a hour which for one day’s work would be $600 of extra earnings for their family.

They could then take the family away on holiday the following weekend when things are less crowded, because they were able to earn that extra $600.

The Press attacks the Government for not changing the status quo:

What this shows is that the Government is gun-shy about taking leadership in election year over an issue which is highly sensitive for many Christians and trade unions.

Religious opponents of allowing general trading on Easter Sunday believe that commercialism would somehow undermine the spiritual meaning of Easter, while trade unions argue that trading-hour liberalisation would expose employees to the risk of exploitation. Yet neither of these arguments is convincing.

Better by far that the Government had acted to at least ensure that the trading regime was consistent and logical, rather than allow the law to continue to make an ass of itself during future Easter weekends.

The Dominion Post is more pointed:

Going to a brothel yesterday was fine by the Government. Going to a garden centre wasn’t, The Dominion Post writes.

That – presumably – is not because the Government believes a dalliance with a prostitute is a more appropriate way to mark Good Friday than sowing some sweetpeas, but because New Zealand’s Easter shopping laws remain a hotch-potch of anomalies and absurdities.

Queenstown and Taupo shop owners could happily open their doors without fear of fines because they are deemed to be tourist areas. Their near neighbours in Wanaka and Rotorua could not. Dairies and service stations were allowed to open. Garden centres were not – but many did anyway.

It is small wonder that the laws and the fines that go along with breaking them are regarded as a final remnant of the days New Zealand was run, as former prime minister David Lange put it, like a Gdansk shipyard.

The best reform suggestion comes from Jim Donovan:

The usual arguments are trotted out by the pro-restriction lobby: it’s one day families can all rely on to get together, it’s a mark of respect to our religious and cultural heritage, it’s one day that sporting and cultural festival organisers can rely on  … That’s fine for those people who want to put aside those particular days for the things they want to do; but why … should everyone else be captive to those special interest groups’ demands, especially when the vast majority actually take no part in the special events on those holidays? The pro-restriction lobby then trots out pieties against crass commercialism and abuse of workers’ rights.

Jim sums up the usual arguments from the statists who want to force their views on everyone else. He then makes a proposal:

Get rid of public holidays altogether, and in return increase annual leave entitlements by the same number of days. Say you currently get 20 days annual leave and 10 public holidays; instead you’d get 30 days annual leave, to take whenever you like.

To cater for the people who want to fix certain dates for religious or cultural activities, you could allow them to nominate up to, say, 5 days a year where they can definitely take time off (i.e. the employer has no choice). To avoid gaming, once nominated those days MUST be taken, unless the employer and employee otherwise both agree. Of course you’d have to allow for essential services, but I’d keep it a very short list.

I like it.  Those who want to have Easter together can do so.  In fact under the current law they can’t as they could be forced to work Easter Saturday and/or Easter Monday. Jim’s proposal would give certainty to families who want some guaranteed time together, but allow freedom to choose for everyone else.

The economy, businesses and consumers would effectively gain several days trading a year. And here’s the greatest advantage – ordinary workers would be free to take more days off when they and their employer agree, not when someone else outside the relationship says they should. For example, families could organise get-togethers when it suited them – and avoid the peak fares and traffic jams of the most popular days.

Indeed. Why let a stupid Gregorian calendar formula dictate when you must take a day off.

I’d bet that most people and businesses would prefer the latter. And think of the administrative simplicity. Unfortunately, too many vested interests love the petty power, anti-competitiveness and big-noting associated with public holidays.

It would be great for religious diversity also.  Jews and Muslims could nominate as of right five of their religious holidays as days they get to take off. As could Buddhists, Hindus. And Americans here could take the 4th of July off.  At present no employee gets to decide as of right a single day they take off. This proposal would give them an inalienable right to take five days off that they nominate and choose, plus another 25 days by mutual consent.

Jim Donovan for Minister of Labour I say.

Easter Sunday ban on comments

March 22nd, 2008 at 11:15 pm by David Farrar

Seeing that the powers that be have declared Easter Sunday so sacred, that shops can’t open on it (despite not even being a public holiday), then it is only fair I aso impose my personal wishes on everyone else and ban comments from appearing on Easter Sunday, so people will spend more time with their families.

However l’ll let comments start up again early afternoon, once everyone is back from church.

Earliest Easter for 100 years

March 21st, 2008 at 6:34 pm by David Farrar

According to National Review, Easter will not be this early again until 2160. It can in theory be one day earlier than it is this year, but will not be until 2285, and last was in 1818.

Incidentially Easter is observed on the Sunday after the first full moon on or after the day of the vernal equinox which is normally 21 March.

National Review says the formula to work out the date for Easter is:

((19*t+u-w-(u-(u+8)\25)+1)\3)+15)mod30)+(32+2*x+2*y-(19*t+u-w- (u-(u+8)\25)+1)\3)+15)mod30)-z)mod7)-7*(t+11*(19*t+u-w(u- (u+8)\25)+1)\3)+15)mod30)+22*(32+2*x+2*y-(19*t+u-w-(u- (u+8)\25)+1)\3)+15)mod30)-g)mod7)+114)\31

Looks Greek to me. I prefer the Meeus/Jones/Butcher Gregorian algorithm:

  1. a = Y mod 19
  2. b = Y/100
  3. c = Y mod 100
  4. d = b/4
  5. e = b mod 4
  6. f = (b + 8) / 25
  7. g = (b – f + 1) / 3
  8. h = (19 × a + b – d – g + 15) mod 30
  9. i = c / 4
  10. k = c mod 4
  11. l = (32 + 2 × e + 2 × i – h – k) mod 7
  12. m = (a + 11 × h + 22 × L) / 451
  13. month = (h + L – 7 × m + 114) / 31
  14. day = ((h + L – 7 × m + 114) mod 31) + 1

Simple really. So let us try it for 2008 (you use integers only by truncating)

  1. a = 2008 mod 19 = 13
  2. b = 2008/100 = 20
  3. c = 2008 mod 100 = 8
  4. d = 20/4 = 5
  5. e = 20 mod 4 = 0
  6. f = (20 + 8 )/ 25 = 28/25 = 1
  7. g = (20 – 1 + 1) / 3 = 20/3 = 6
  8. h = (19 × 13 + 20 – 5 – 6 + 15) mod 30 = 271 mod 30 = 1
  9. i = 8 /4 = 2
  10. k = 8 mod 4 = 0
  11. l = (32 + 2 × 0 + 2 × 2 – 1 – 0) mod 7 = 35 mod 7 = 0
  12. m = (13 + 11 × 1 + 22 × 0) / 451 = 46/451 = 0
  13. month = (1 + 0 – 7 × 0 + 114) /31 = 115/31 = 3
  14. day = ((1 + 0 – 7 × 0 + 114) mod 31) + 1 = 22 +1 = 23

So in 2008 Easter Sunday is the 23rd day of the third month.

I’ve even been bored enough that I have set up a spreadsheet in Excel with the formula so I can now instantly calculate Easter for any year!