ACT Party pushes on with campaign to scrap Easter trading restrictions

  • 27/03/2024

The ACT Party still wants to ease Easter rules for businesses, despite such reform being absent from its Coalition agreement with National. 

Easter Trading Laws were imposed in 1990 to reflect "the wishes of many New Zealanders to recognise" Good Friday, Easter Sunday as well as Christmas Day and Anzac Day "have special national, religious and social significance". 

But Cameron Luxton, an ACT MP, told AM the rules should be scrapped as they were "restrictions on the way New Zealanders can enjoy their long weekend". 

According to Luxton's Member's Bill submitted to Parliament's ballot, AKA the "biscuit tin", the laws represented "a level of state control and bureaucracy which is not required and indeed detrimental".  

The rules were also felt "most severely by small businesses who generally have a smaller pool of cash reserves and tighter allowances", the draft Bill said. 

"This is the sort of thing that needs to be addressed... it needs to be resolved," Luxton told AM host Melissa Chan-Green.  

"It's a priority for ACT, it didn't survive the Coalition negotiations to get into an agreement but I think you've heard that the Prime Minister is very open to this sort of change in New Zealand. 

"Having it in the biscuit tin is a chance for it to be addressed. It does take a luck of the draw, so fingers crossed every time there's a draw but, when it is drawn, I think that the Government has got an ethos of removing restrictions on New Zealanders." 

The laws are a contentious issue, raised on an almost annual basis when Easter rolls around. 

In 2021, Labour's Kieran McAnulty put forward a Bill to abolish Easter liquor laws.   

The very next year, ACT MP Chris Baillie had a Bill drawn from the ballot to abolish Easter trading restrictions - which Parliament voted down. 

And, in 2023, then-Opposition leader Christopher Luxon vowed to review Easter Trading Laws if elected.   

Opponents of ACT's Bill, including Labour, have argued Good Friday and Easter Sunday were two of 3.5 days of the year where workers could focus on spending time with family and friends.