Easter Sunday law 'not conscience issue'

John Key: No need for conscience vote on Easter Sunday trading
Stuff co.nz 22 August 2016
Family First Comment: Sad. National MPs being whipped to vote for Easter trading law changes.
Prime Minister John Key denies National MPs should be allowed a conscience vote on Easter Sunday trading, saying the current rules are “mad” and local councils should make the decisions.
Family First has joined former All Black Michael Jones in encouraging National MPs to buck their party’s line and vote down the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill, which would allow councils to decide whether or not shops could open on Easter Sunday.
Key said he did not think the proposed law should be treated as a conscience issue, as it was about allowing local councils to decide whether shops could open, rather than forcing a nationwide change.
“You’re never going to get a resolution to this through parliament…the only way you’re going to resolve it is for the local communities to be masters of their own destiny, and that is not a conscience matter.”
Current MPs Chester Borrows, Bill English, Sam Lotu-Iiga, Tim Macindoe and Jonathan Young all voted against McClay’s bill, which was defeated by 62 votes to 59.
Key claimed the bills were different, saying: “That was specifically for Easter trading, this is about the right of the community to decide that and councils to decide that.”
In fact, a Cabinet paper about the current Easter Sunday bill notes that it was “based on Hon Todd McClay’s Member’s Bill from 2009”.
Key said many shops already defied the trading restrictions, which were already inconsistent in different parts of the country.
“Where the current laws are set is mad, because if you go down the road from, where I live, you want to turn left at the top of my street, you hit Newmarket and you can’t trade over [Easter]…you go right and you are, because you’re in Parnell and Parnell is deemed to be a tourism hub and Newmarket wasn’t.”
The proposed law was a chance to find a solution where previous attempts had failed, he said.
Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said National MPs should be allowed a conscience vote “in the interests of fairness”, given that had been the case in the past.
“We’re not sure why this conscience vote has been stripped from National MPs – perhaps it’s simply because they know the bill will be defeated, and it is a government bill and so that’s embarrassing.”
McCoskrie said Key had been “pummeled” with over 300 emails from those against Easter Sunday trading, after a Family First campaign.
“We’re trying to give some strength to the arm of those National MPs who believe it should be a conscience vote: we’re trying to say look, there is public support for you having the right to use your conscience.”
Economic concerns should not always take precedent over “family occasions” like Easter and Christmas, he said.
“We compare it to a public park: it’s a piece of land that could be much better used perhaps, you could argue, for housing developments, but we have those parks because they add to the quality of the community, and we’re saying that public holidays and traditions add to the quality of society.”
It was likely that employees who wanted the day off would come under pressure to work, while the bill would give “a hospital pass” to councils by leaving them in charge of the final decision.
“The irony is that they’re not actually solving the problem – the perceived problem is inconsistency around the country and this will just continue the inconsistency, because you’ll have different councils saying yes and different councils saying no.”

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