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Anglicans Say ‘No’ To Easter Sunday Trading

For immediate release January 19, 2008

Enough is enough: Anglican leaders again say ‘No’
to the ‘liberalisation’ of Easter Sunday trading

Leaders of the Anglican Church in this country have restated their opposition to the introduction of open slather Easter Sunday trading.

The Government has invited submissions to the Department of Labour’s Easter Trading and Holidays Legislation discussion document – and this document again raises the prospect of changes to the Easter trading restrictions, so the rest of the country is brought into line with the ‘rights’ given to certain shop owners in tourist destinations such as Queenstown and Taupo.

But the Anglican Archbishops, Brown Turei and David Moxon, and the Church’s Social Justice Commissioner, Anthony Dancer, say enough is enough – the market has intruded into almost every corner of New Zealanders’ lives. It should not, they say, intrude on Easter Sunday. Their statement follows:

Easter comes early this year – and with it comes, once again, pressure to ‘liberalise’ Easter Sunday trading.

With more than half of the population of this country holding some form of Christian affiliation, it is right that their views on a matter that concerns the most important Christian festival in the year should be given weight.

The business lobbyists who continue to press for Easter Sunday trading need to be challenged. Their desire is a minority view – even among retailers, it seems.
For example: a poll taken in Newmarket during December 2007, shows that about three-quarters of its retailers are against allowing shops to open on Easter Sunday. This leaves us wondering exactly who does want to liberalise Easter Sunday trade.

In a bid to clear things up on this issue The Department of Labour and the Ministry of Justice recently put out a discussion document.

The writers of that document say it’s an attempt to “sort out inconsistencies for businesses and community, including businesses and consumers.”

Framing the problem in this way, we think, is wrong. Because it suggests that economics and money – and not people’s wellbeing – are what really count. That misconception lies at the root of this debate.

We are not, first of all, consumers. Nor are we businesses. Nor are we defined by markets. We are human beings. Human beings made, Christians believe, in God’s image.

And while our desires and our achievements are many, ultimately our desire must be for the God who gives us life.

Easter, and particularly Easter Sunday, is the time in which we celebrate the God who gives us life. It’s not a time for indulging ourselves in the marketplace. Easter, and particularly Easter Sunday, is a time during which shops should remain closed.

We will again hear, we presume, references made to the need to increase GDP and lift productivity. But international studies continue to show that working longer hours doesn’t necessarily lead to an increase in productivity.
The effects upon the people of New Zealand of liberalising trade on Easter Sunday will, we believe, mostly be negative and detrimental to our long-term well being.

We believe the time has come for New Zealand to say: ‘Enough is enough’ where the continued intrusion of the market into our lives is concerned. We need to draw a line under this recurrent discussion about Easter Sunday trading, and to move on.

And if that happens, we will all be the richer.
Archbishop Brown Turei and Archbishop David Moxon
Co-Presiding Bishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia
Anthony Dancer
Social Justice Commissioner for the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

NB: The closing date for submissions to the Easter Trading and Holidays Legislation discussion document (viewable at: http://dol.govt.nz/consultation/shoptrading/index.asp ) is January 25.
To see the statement the Archbishops made about this same issue in June 2006, go to: http://www.anglicanchurch.co.nz/Latest-News/Easter-Sunday-trading.asp


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