Family First has appeared before the Select Committee hearing submissions on the Easter Sunday Shop Trading Amendment Bill.
The sponsor of the Bill, National’s Jacqui Dean, said, “NZ now has a 24 hour, 7 day a week trading environment, providing goods and services in shops, in malls, and on the Internet. Our overseas visitors expect to be able to shop…tourism is a 365-day-a-year industry”.
Yet a holiday anywhere in the world means encountering when shops are not open. This includes a Friday in any Islamic country, Saturdays in Israel, many Sundays in part of the Netherlands; Sundays in Germany, Zimbabwe, and Pacific neighbours like Samoa, Fiji and Tonga, and limited shopping in large stores in the UK on Sundays.
And then there are the closures on religious and state holidays throughout the world. New Zealand is not out of step with the trading patterns of other countries.
More importantly, however, we need to protect family life and the traditions associated with families gathering together for celebrations and remembrance, such as Anzac Day, Easter and Christmas.
A survey for Relationship Services of 1000 New Zealanders, drawn from survey firm ACNielsen’s regular online panel and published last month, found that more than half of the population want more time with their children (66 per cent of men, 52 per cent of women) and close friends (54 per cent on average).
And Auckland University’s Adolescent Health Research Group report from 2001 found that 40% of students said they didn’t get enough time with their parents each week.
New Zealanders are also working longer than any other nationality, apart from the Japanese. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) report from 2004 said that 21% of New Zealand workers work more than 50 hours a week. In most EU countries the number of people working 50 hours or more per work remains well under 10%.
Public holidays are traditions. They create rituals for families, not based on shopping but on celebrating together, reconnecting, and making memories.
Public holidays make us stop as a nation and realise that work will always be there, but family members may not.
Work is also about adults – what is best for our children? For many people, our best memories as a child come from family reunions, family camps and holidays – enjoyed over the traditional holiday periods of Easter, Christmas and long weekends, back in the days when many workers had the privilege of a long weekend.
For the sake of families and the well-being of our nation, keep the public holidays. We need the break.
And the tourists can shop tomorrow.