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.