Unholy mess

April 23, 2014

Prime Minister John Key says Easter trading laws aren’t working well and need to be changed.

He’s right on both counts, the law is an unholy mess.

Anyone can trade in Queenstown and Taupo but only some can in neighbouring Wanaka and Rotorua.

Outside the designated tourist areas a petrol station or dairy can sell magazines and milk but a book shop and supermarket can’t.

We were in Wanaka at the weekend, the town was full and almost all shops were open every day.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has released a statement saying it doesn’t discuss its enforcement approach with external parties and that it takes a reactive approach to trading laws, only investigating when complaints are made.

As of 1pm today, MBIE had received 18 complaints, most of them in the North Island, but one from Wanaka. . . .

At least we now don’t have the ridiculous situation of MBIE staff working to police those who shouldn’t be working, but having some busy-bodies reporting businesses doing what they shouldn’t in one place when they could in another isn’t much better.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean has been trying to get some sense into the situation but it’s a conscience vote and with the left block voting the union way she hasn’t been able to get the numbers.

But one of the guests on RadioNZ’s panel last week came up with a compromise that might work – treat Good Friday and Easter Sunday like Anzac Day – have all businesses close in the morning but able to open in the afternoon.

This would be a compromise which won’t please everyone, but it would be better than the unholy mess we have now.


The law is even more of an ass

April 10, 2012

The Labour Department people working on Good Friday which is a statutory holiday found 22 shops open when they should have been closed.

Those working on Easter Sunday found 19 businesses trading when they shouldn’t have been.

The stupidity of the law which allows all shops in some places and some shops in all places to open while telling most shops they must stay closed has been well canvassed.

But I discovered the law is even more of an ass – bars which open on these days can only serve drinks to people who also order food.

Eating while drinking is sensible but this isn’t about drinking or eating. It’s just another silly clause in a really silly law which results in more people working to police or comply with the law than would need to be working if the law was more sensible.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean has been doing her best to help Wanaka retailers have the same right to open as those in Queenstown just over the hill. She has a Members’ Bill on the issue due to go before the House in a few months and says she’s prepared to do a bit of horse trading to get it through.

It will be a conscience vote but last time the issue was before the House labour MPs whose consciences had allowed them to support a Bill from their own caucus a few years earlier block voted against it.


Ongoing saga of Easter trading

March 27, 2012

The Labour Department is reminding retailers they’re not supposed to trade on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Ho hum, here we go again.

The Biannual Warbirds Over Wanaka will attract thousands of people to the town.

They’ll be able to buy whatever’s on sale at the airport, in service stations, tourist shops and dairies but not buy exactly the same things in shops unless they pop over the hill to Queenstown where all shops are allowed to open.

This law is an ass.


Not working

April 2, 2010

News papers won’t be published today but some of their staff will be working on what is a public holiday for everyone and a holy day for some to produce a paper for tomorrow.

Shops in Queenstown and a few other specified “tourist towns” will be able to trade legally today while those in the neighbouring towns such as Wanaka which are at least as attractive to tourists won’t.

The people in Wanaka who will find shops which are closed or trading illegally will also find some businesses operating legally, including some which sell the same things as those which can’t open today.

The thousands of people who have flocked to Wanaka for Warbirds will find businesses not open or open illegally in the town but will be able to buy many of the things these businesses sell from businesses operating at the airport.

Department of Labour inspectors will be working today to fine the businesses which aren’t supposed to be working today.

A law which is inconsistent and illogical is bad law.

The Easter Trading law is all of those and it’s simply not working.


Another Easter Trading Bill

January 19, 2010

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean is preparing a private member’s bill to enable Wanaka businesses to trade legally on Easter Sunday.

Mrs Dean has gained approval from the National Party caucus to spearhead a Bill directed specifically at the Queenstown Lakes district, which she says will address concerns in Wanaka about Easter trading.

It would apply specifically to the Queenstown Lakes District Council and aim to correct the anomalies in the Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal Act (1990), in which Queenstown was granted a general exemption to trade at Easter but Wanaka was not, she said.

The current legislation is full of anomalies, one of which is that retailers in Queenstown can trade when those over the hill in Wanaka can’t.

Another is that Wanaka’s book store and supermarket can’t open but the town’s petrol station can sell magazines and food.

This will be Jacqui’s second bill on the issue, the first which was aimed at Easter Trading in general wasn’t passed. Rotorua MP Todd McLay tried another bill to address the issue last year but that failed by a few votes.

This isn’t an attack on anyone’s faith. It’s what you believe and do which makes a day holy, not what the law allows.

It’s not an attack on workers or families. Most shops in Wanaka open anyway,

This is just an attempt to allow them to do so legally.


MPs missed chance to let law reflect reality

December 10, 2009

It wasn’t about religion.

It wasn’t about families.

Todd McLay’s Easter Trading bill was simply going to mean the law reflects reality in places like Wanaka and Rotorua.

Our Easter Trading law is a dog’s breakfast.

Shops in Queenstown and Taupo, which are judged to be tourist destinations are allowed to trade,  neighbouring towns like Wanaka and Rotorua which have with similar appeal to travellers, are not.

But changes in retail make the law even more absurd. Service stations are allowed to open and sell magazines but a book shop isn’t.

Year after year I’ve seen retailers in Wanaka ignore the law and open. Year after year the Department of Labour stalks them and lays some charges to make an example of them. Last time a Wanaka retailer appeared in court the judge said the law was a nonsense.

Yesterday MPs had a chance to sort out the nonsense.

The bill wasn’t going to unleash commercial mayhem and tear families apart. It was merely going to give local authorities the power to decide if shops could open in their area.

It would have let Queenstown Lakes and Rotorua councils fix local problems but  it was defeated 62-59.

No-one would have been forced to open a business, no-one would have been forced to work in it, no-one would have been forced to patronise it.

It would have just meant the law reflected reality in a few places where retailers choose to open, their staff have the right to work or not and people have the ability to patronise them or not.

Next year the bi-annual Warbirds over Wanaka will bring more than 20,000 people to the town. There will be stalls at the airport where the show takes place, there will be stalls on Pembroke park at the Sunday market, petrol stations, tourist shops and pharmacies will be open and selling things legally. Shops in town will also be open and selling similar, or event he same, things and breaking the law by doing so.

MPs lost an opportunity to back a very moderate Bill which would have meant the law reflects reality.

Instead of which it will be ignored and a law which is regularly ignored in this way is very bad law.


Shops may open despite risk of being shopped

April 9, 2009

Wanaka shops aren’t confirming whether or not they’ll defy Easter trading laws  and open tomorrow and Sunday.

But if past actions are any indication they will and people will take the opportunity offered for retail therapy.

The law enables all shops  just over the hill in Queenstown to open because it’s deemed to be a toruist resort, but not those in Wanaka.

Even sillier is that it allows one business in Wanaka to open because it sells to tourists but the one next door can not open legally even though it sells much the same thing.

Then of course because the law prohibits some businesses from opening, Labour Department staff have to work on the holiday to fine shop owners for working.

Whether they target Wanaka as they have in the past, and whether they shop after shopping the shops  for opening to shoppers will remain to be seen.

Kiwiblog has his annual rant on Easter Trading and Big News posts on the issue too.


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