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Don Brash fears long-term damage from Holidays Act

Don Brash MP National Party Leader

20 April, 2004

Don Brash fears long-term damage from Holidays Act

National Party Leader Don Brash has launched a scathing attack on the Holidays Act, describing it as "a step back to the days when New Zealand was closed at the weekend."

"The immediate effect of the legislation was a substantial reduction in employment over Easter. The Restaurant Association stated that about 30% of restaurants and cafes stayed closed over Easter because of the Act, and a further 20% decided to open with fewer staff than usual. The Government has artificially boosted the pay of some workers, at the expense of eliminating the jobs of thousands of others.

"Many fruit growers in Central Otago shut down over Easter, and cherry growers are particularly worried about the Christmas period when cherries must be picked.

"Exporters cannot just put a surcharge on sales. They are price takers, not price makers, in international markets," Dr Brash says. "Even when businesses in the hospitality trade add a surcharge, this inevitably means less custom and thus fewer employment opportunities."

"The consequences of this are only gradually emerging. Our financially struggling health boards are now figuring out the costs to them - after all, hospitals cannot close for business for a day or two, or even an hour or two. Nor can all the support service industries, those who for instance, do cleaning for the disabled, the sick and the elderly.

"There are plenty of other aspects of the Holidays Act that will boost costs to business, and thus reduce job opportunities and reduce incomes.

"None of this is necessary. If we assume that it is being done with the best of intentions, rather than as a sop to Labour's union friends, as it appears, then it is misconceived. It is based on the fantasy that government can simply dial up an income for people," he says.

"It is also based on a public sector, glide-time mentality, typical of a group of ministers who have spent their entire working lives in the public sector. But in the modern economy business is a seven-day-a-week affair, and those businesses are open for more than eight hours a day.

"This Government is putting in place labour laws appropriate to the 1950s public sector, not to a modern economy at the beginning of the 21st century," says Dr Brash.


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