Easter trading voting 'will be close'

BY CHE BAKER
Last updated 05:00 08/09/2010

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Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean will go before Parliament today without the confidence her bill to extend Easter trading would be passed, after it was drawn from the member's ballot last month .

Ms Dean said she was not confident she would have the support and the "voting was going to be extremely close".

The Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal (Waitaki Easter Trading) Amendment Bill 2010 would allow retailers within the Waitaki electorate to trade on Good Friday and Easter Sunday if it were passed.

The bill would be read before Parliament and the first arguments would be made before a members' vote. If it was not backed by the members it would be dropped.

Ms Deans said she wanted the bill passed to address anomalies in parts of the Queenstown Lakes District and Central Otago whereby Queenstown could trade at Easter but other towns could not.

Caritas, a Catholic agency for justice, peace and development, chief executive officer Michael Smith announced yesterday it would support Dunedin's Bishop Colin Campbell in opposing Easter trading.

It was time to consider removing all exemptions for Queenstown, Taupo and Parnell, which gave an unfair market advantage to some retailers at Easter, Mr Smith said.

"Churches, unions and the wider community have been forced over and over to defend the rare collective opportunities for rest in the three and a half shop-free days at Easter, Christmas and Anzac Day," Mr Smith said.

This was despite indications through numerous conscience votes that members had consistently agreed that 361 shopping days a year were adequate, he said.

Caritas had written to MPs asking them to oppose the bill.

Ms Deans said she acknowledged some people might not support the bill on religious grounds but believed the time had come to reconcile that many people worked during Easter in essential services without it adversely affecting family life.

National Distribution Union general secretary Robert Reid said it would not support the bill and would call on MPs "to put families and communities before commerce, and stop the Jacqui Dean Easter trading bill from going any further".

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