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Govt could have sorted out Easter trading circus

Govt could have sorted out Easter trading circus by now

Latest statistics show more tourists want to shop than sightsee

"Inconsistent Easter trading laws will again cause a circus this weekend with many retailers’ crying foul and others feeling they have no option but to break the law. It’s a perennial headache but only because the Government has dropped the ball. It should have all been sorted out by now,” claims Cameron Brewer, head of Auckland’s leading shopping district.

“We’re again going to see retailers marched off to court, with shop owners, managers and supervisors threatened with fines of up to $1,000. No one’s pushing to have their doors open 365 days a year, but retailers deserve consistent rules up and down the country,” said Mr Brewer.

“It is crazy that Parnell can trade on Easter Sunday but Newmarket can't. It's equally crazy that visitor destinations like Queenstown and Taupo can trade, but Rotorua, Mt Maunganui and Wanaka can't and desperately want to.”

The General Manager of the Newmarket Business Association says the Government could have avoided another Easter’s fiasco. He believes the Government should have promoted Labour MP Steve Chadwick’s private member's bill on Easter trading to become a Government measure, giving it legislative priority.

"It's very disappointing that Sue Bradford's anti-smacking bill which has little public support continues to take up so much of parliament's time when two well supported members’ bills focused on commercial fairness are left languishing on the heap.

"Leader of the House Michael Cullen has mismanaged the process. At the very least the Government should have promoted the status of Steve Chadwick's bill to keep things moving. However it's been sadly left to languish and subsequently the Labour MP is openly voicing her frustration."

The two private member's bills aimed at creating a fairer playing field for retailers over Easter are Labour's Steve Chadwick's Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal (Easter Trading) Amendment Bill are National MP Jacqui Dean's Easter Sunday Shop Trading Amendment Bill. Both bills were introduced to Parliament in May 2006.

Steve Chadwick's bill seeks to enable territorial authorities to decide whether retail shops in their districts may be open on Easter Sunday following community consultation Jacqui Dean's bill allows shops in certain areas with significant visitor industries to remain open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

“The valid issues that Jacqui Dean’s bill raises also need to be closely scrutinised. The latest Ministry of Tourism statistics show that overall visitor’ expenditure is on the rise. What’s more, year ended December 2006 figures show that ‘shopping’ was the most popular activity for international visitors to Auckland with ‘dining’ and ‘sight-seeing’ coming in second and third respectively. Auckland’s growing status as a visitor destination in its own right also needs to be considered.

“Retailers don’t necessarily want to open their shops every day of the year but the many ongoing disparities need to be sorted out once and for all. The Government however continues to drag its feet.

"The Chadwick and Dean bills are about shining some light on the many inconsistencies currently in place over Easter. Unfortunately, neither bill is going to see the light of day for sometime," said Mr Brewer.

Ends

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