The Government has today introduced a new bill governing retail trading hours on Easter Sunday. The bill amends the existing act to let councils create bylaws that allow shop trading on Easter Sunday, and enable shop workers to refuse work on Easter Sunday.
Michael Woodhouse, who is Minister of Immigration, Minister of Police, and Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, is in charge of the new Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill. Before it becomes law, the bill will go through a number of stages where it will be subject to public debate and scrutiny. The bill’s first reading can occur no sooner than three sitting days after its introduction today.
Retail NZ today issued a press release slamming the bill, with general manager public affairs Greg Harford saying he is “deeply disappointed” in it.
“Retailers want the choice to open their doors at times when their customers want to shop – but Michael Woodhouse’s bill does nothing other than pass the buck on trading rules to local councils, impose costs on communities and ratepayers, and still tries to ban shopping on Good Friday and Christmas Day, despite the fact that customers can and do shop 24/7 on these days,” Harford says.
He says Retail NZ is particularly disappointed that Woodhouse did not consult retailers about the bill, and has refused to meet with the organization to discuss its concerns.
Harford says the resources involved in allowing New Zealand’s 67 local councils to each create 67 separate bylaws covering Easter trading will be significant, speaking of “a tidal wave of lengthy consultation”.
“It will be made worse by the fact that the Government’s bill allows bylaws to be made for different areas within each council district, and will require a review process every five years,” Harford says. “We will likely see a patchwork of confusing and inconsistent rules being applied when a national approach would provide certainty for everyone.
“Nobody should be forced to shop on Easter Sunday, or any other time, no employee should be forced to work, and no business should be forced to open. But in 2015, these choices should rest with individuals, employees and business owners, not the Government or council bureaucrats.”