25 Aug 2015

Woodhouse changes tune on Easter trading laws

5:56 pm on 25 August 2015

Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse has changed his tune on Easter Sunday trading after previously opposing legislation to allow shops to open their doors on the holiday.

Caucus run 21/07/15

Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The Government will soon introduce a bill to change the law by allowing local body councils to decide whether retailers can open on the day.

The National Party will vote on the bill by party vote, despite it being a conscience issue for previous bills that have come before the House.

Mr Woodhouse has defended his decision to vote against changing Easter trading laws in 2012, when fellow National MP Jacqui Dean put up a bill.

"Well, it was only Wanaka and it didn't give the community the choice. It was quite a different thing. So I am relaxed about the choices I made then and this is a similar bill to the one I favoured," he said.

Mr Woodhouse said his bill would ensure workers could say no if they did not want to work on the holiday.

Another National MP, Chester Borrows, has voted against two previous attempts to let retailers trade on Easter.

This time round he would support the bill - though he still didn't want shops in his constituency of Whanganui to open their doors to shoppers on Easter Sunday.

"I'm pretty happy with where it is now. I mean, if my local council puts it up, I'll vote against it for my local district council area.

"But I think it probably is far wiser for this to be a local decision."

He said there were currently a lot of inconsistencies across businesses and practices.

MP for Maungakiekie Sam Lotu-Iiga also appeared to have changed his tune, after voting against previous attempts to allow Easter trading.

"I support the Government. I am a Government MP, a minister, and I support the bill that's going to be put forward...

"I believe in subsidiarity. I believe that local councils and local people should make that decision and that's what this bill is all about."

Meanwhile, Labour Party leader, Andrew Little, said allowing retailers to trade on Easter Sunday should be a decision for Parliament, not local councils.

He said there was scope to change the law but local authorities should not have to deal with that.

"Parliament should take responsibility. You've got very well-paid MPs sitting around on leather couches possing laws. Let us deal with it and let's have a good, honest discussion about it."

The bill is expected to take affect from Easter 2017.

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