Media Release 25 August 2015
Family First NZ is slamming the government for its intention to liberalise Easter trading laws and questions how long before Christmas day and Anzac day are also liberalised.
They are also criticising the National party for refusing to allow a conscience vote on an issue which has always been very contentious and that individual politicians from all parties have held wide-ranging views.
“We reject any liberalisation of Easter trading laws because workers deserve this special annual break to spend time with their families. The government doesn’t seem to understand that a focus on economic improvement should never come at the cost of weakening the quality and special time that families can spend together. Anzac Day, Easter, and Christmas remain as one of the few times when the whole country stops and takes a break,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“Is this payback for the ‘Mondayisation’ legislation that was passed recently against the government’s wishes? The only people celebrating this law change will be those who are making money from it.”
“Public holidays are traditions. They create rituals for families, not based on shopping but on celebrating together, reconnecting, and making memories. Poll after poll has shown that both parents and children want to spend more time doing family things like picnics and holidays together. However, this is becoming increasingly difficult as the retail industry is required to work almost every day of the year, and shoppers focus on the holiday specials.”
“To argue that it is justified because shoppers are able to shop online is a flawed argument. If it was a valid argument, retailers in NZ would have to be open 24/7,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“This is also not an issue about choice as has been argued. For many workers, they don’t have the luxury of choice as to whether they work or not.”
“Tourists will cope. Many countries have public holidays with shops closed, and tourists simply plan around it, accepting it as part of the local culture and identity. New Zealanders love visiting Pacific Island nations and still manage to enjoy themselves even when everything shuts down on a Sunday,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“Towns do have every right to feel peeved that neighbouring towns can stay open when they can’t. The law needs to be consistent and enforced.”
Family First is also shocked that National MP’s will not be able to exercise a conscience vote on this issue, despite widespread views being held by National MP’s in all previous votes on this issue.
A Research NZ poll in 2010 found that almost two out of three New Zealanders oppose a change to the legislation to allow retailers to open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.