Labour's Kieran McAnulty drafts law change to allow alcohol sales on Easter, Christmas, Anzac Day

Labour MP Kieran McAnulty.
Kieran McAnulty. Photo credit: Getty Images

Labour MP Kieran McAnulty has drafted legislation to allow the sale of alcohol on Easter, Christmas, and Anzac Day at licenced businesses.

Specifically, McAnulty's Member's Bill would amend the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 to allow licenced businesses already permitted to open on Anzac Day morning, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Christmas Day to sell alcohol.

The current law forbids most sales and delivery of alcohol on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, Christmas Day, or before 1pm on Anzac Day.

There are some exemptions, for example, wine made "on the premises" or "from produce harvested from land on which the premises are situated" can be sold.

On Anzac Day, RSAs with a club licence are allowed to:

  • serve alcohol between 4am and 1pm
  • serve alcohol to RSA members and guests of these members when accompanied by them
  • serve alcohol to other authorised visitors of the RSA club.

If RSAs want to serve alcohol to the general public who aren't covered by one of these categories, they need a special licence.

"If someone wants to have a pint after Easter Sunday Mass, without having to buy a substantial meal, they should be allowed to," McAnulty tells Newshub.

The Bill's general policy statement says: "With restrictions currently at our border, New Zealanders are being encouraged to travel the country on public holidays and support local businesses.

"However, this objective is undermined by restrictions of the sale of alcohol at some of the busiest times of the year for hospitality businesses."

Member's Bills are introduced by MPs who are not ministers. The Bills are put into a biscuit tin located outside the old legislative chamber. When space on Parliament's agenda becomes available, a ballot is held to decide which Bills will be debated in the House.

If 61 or more MPs who are not ministers indicate support for a Member's Bill, it will be introduced to the House without needing to be selected through the ballot - and McAnulty is hopeful this will happen for his Bill.

McAnulty isn't the only MP seeking changes to trading rules. ACT's small business spokesperson Chris Baillie has entered a Member's Bill proposing the removal of all trading restrictions on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

"Restricted trading over Easter represents a level of state control and bureaucracy which is unnecessary and hurts small business especially," Baillie said over the Easter break.

He hopes the Government will pick up his Bill and pass it into law before next Easter without it needing to be pulled from the ballot.

"ACT says consistent with a free society all businesses should be allowed to determine which days they would like to open," Baillie says.

"Business owners need a break and removing anachronistic Easter Trading laws would be a welcome start."