Easter trading bill returns unchanged

  • 13/05/2016

The Bill that allows councils to decide whether shops can open on Easter Sunday is back in parliament.

The commerce select committee has returned it unchanged after hearing public submissions, and the bill will go on the order paper for its second reading, committee stage and third reading.

It passed its first reading on a 75-45 conscience vote in November, with Labour and the Greens opposing it.

Since then NZ First has changed its stance and also opposes the Bill.

Although conscience votes are allowed on it, the parties in Parliament have taken positions on the legislation and it's a government Bill.

National, ACT and United Future supported it on its first reading, and those three are enough for a narrow majority.

Easter trading has been a controversial issue for years, and several attempts to change the law through members' bills have failed.

Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse, who is in charge of the current one, says it's a pragmatic solution that gives local authorities and their communities the right to choose whether shops in their area should be allowed to open on Easter Sunday.

Opponents say it puts a burden on councils that they don't want, and the Government should take responsibility for a nationwide policy.

The Bill affects Easter Sunday trading only. Good Friday, Anzac Day and Christmas Day shopping restrictions aren't affected.

It protects shop staff, who can't be compelled to work and don't have to provide an explanation if they refuse.