Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, the Catholic agency for justice, peace and development, welcomes the defeat of one of two private member’s bills which would have extended shop trading hours.
Caritas CEO Michael Smith said the Catholic social justice agency was pleased that Jacqui Dean’s bill, which would have extended shop hours on both Good Friday and Easter Sunday throughout New Zealand, had been rejected by a strong majority of MPs.
However, he urged Members of Parliament to continue to oppose the remaining private member’s bill, sponsored by Steve Chadwick, which would allow local authorities to extend Easter trading in their own local areas.
“We do not support the government delegating authority for fundamental decisions about working hours to local authorities,” Michael Smith said. “We believe this situation will result in widespread Easter trading by default, as regions find they are compelled to introduce trading in the face of competition and other pressures.“
Caritas supports the call of the National Distribution Union to develop an exemption process which is consistent with the original intention of exemptions – to ensure that trading should be the exception rather than the rule. This could provide for exceptional situations, such as the Wanaka air show, without impacting on all New Zealanders.
Michael Smith said that Easter Sunday is of special significance to Christians, but as one of only three and a half days in the year remaining from which shopping is excluded, is also welcomed and celebrated as a day of rest by all New Zealanders.
“Many New Zealanders face long working hours, and struggle to obtain a reasonable balance of work and life issues. Families have been the focus of concerted political attention in Parliament as a broad consensus has been reached around Section 59 of the Crimes Act. However, removing one of our last remaining collective days of rest will not help to strengthen family life. We encourage our politicians to consider how best to support work/life balance in families.”
For more information, please contact: Lisa Beech, Caritas research and advocacy officer 04-496-1742