Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean’s bill on Easter trading laws was drawn from the Member’s Ballot in parliament today.
The Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal (Waitaki Easter Trading) Amendment Bill 2010 seeks to allow all retailers within districts covered by the Waitaki Electorate to trade on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It aims to address the anomaly that occurs within parts of the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago areas, where Queenstown has an exemption to trade over Easter, but other towns do not.
Mrs Dean said she believed her bill had the potential to create a new era for tourism retailers in her electorate.
“I made a commitment to the people that I represent that I would keep working on Easter trading until the law was changed. Today is the first step in that process and I am pleased and proud that we have reached this milestone.
“I am taking a regional approach with my bill this time as the entire Waitaki Electorate relies heavily on tourism, and is a busy place over the Easter period.
“Despite setbacks in the past, I am now confident that we can successfully achieve Easter trading law changes which will mean that retailers in busy tourist towns, like Wanaka, can open their doors if and when they chose to do so.
“I am not about forcing people to open on Easter Sunday, but rather I want everyone to have the choice.
“I acknowledge that some people may not support my bill on religious grounds, but I believe the time has come to recognize that many people work over Easter in essential services like hospitals, police and the fire service, and they do so without adversely impacting on family life.
“In fact many young people in tourist towns like Wanaka see extra work over Easter as an opportunity to earn extra cash.
“I am hoping that Parliament will send the Waitaki Bill to select committee so that we can have a fresh look and an informed debate around the realities of commerce over Easter, and addressing the anomalies that exist in the present laws.
“I believe people are now ready for change and I am confident that I will get the support that I need to make these progressive changes happen.”
This is Jacqui’s second attempt to address the anomalies in current law which enable shops in Queenstown to open but prevent shops selling the same thing a few kilometres over the hill in Wanaka from opening. The current law also enables some businesses, for example service stations to sell a range of items normally sold in supermarkets or book shops which can’t open.
Easter Sunday isn’t a public holiday and the proposed law change isn’t a threat to religion. The law and what it allow or disallows does not make a day holy.
Nor is the proposed change a threat to employees. They will not be forced tow ork and shops which prefer not to open will be free to stay closed.
The Bill is simply an attempt to get a common sense solution for a small part of the country and it will in effect be legalising what already happens because many Wanaka retailers open illegally and accept the costs as part of their costs.
Rotorua MP Todd McLay’s bill on Easter trading was lost by a handful of votes last year.