It’s now over to councils to decide whether shops can open on Easter Sunday after controversial legislation passed into law amidst heated debate.
That is despite public calls from New Zealand sporting greats David Tua and Michael Jones for Pacific MPs to oppose the change.
Tua flew to Wellington to speak to media shortly before the final vote, flanked by Labour’s Pacific MPs.
“I think Easter Sunday needs to be protected. As a young boy growing up in South Auckland Easter Sunday, you looked forward to it – to spending it with your family, you go to church, and you have a good lunch,” Tua said.
National’s Pacific MPs needed to be “courageous” and defy their party and vote down the law change “for our families”, the boxer said.
Last week rugby great Michael Jones – a devout Christian who has links to the National Party – also went public with a similar call.
However, all National Party members voted for the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill, which will allow councils to pass bylaws to allow trading on Easter Sunday and passed its third and final reading by 62 to 59 personal votes today.
Great to see Parliament vote for slightly saner shop trading hours.
The current law is a farce. Queenstown and Taupo could open but not Rotorua and Wanaka. How can anyone defend the status quo? You either need all areas to be open, none to be open or have a procedure (which we now have) where each area can decide for itself.
It is also worth noting that many shops already can legally open on Easter Sunday anyway. Dairies, service stations, souvenir shops, duty free shops, fast food outlets, public transport terminal stores, and pharmacies can all open.
The new law also explicitly states no employee can be forced to work on Easter Sunday, and can refuse without having to give a reason. This protects employees far more than the current law where employees who did work in one of the exempted category or exempted areas could be forced to work.
So it is a small step towards a saner shop trading hour regime.
What will be interesting now is to see what each territorial authority decides. I am sure areas such as Wanaka and Rotorua (who have wanted this for a long time) will decide to allow Easter Sunday trading. What will Wellington decide? Tauranga?