Now is the hour of discontent

A number of New Plymouth bars and cafes have been criticised for opening ahead of the 1pm deadline on Anzac Day.
A number of New Plymouth bars and cafes have been criticised for opening ahead of the 1pm deadline on Anzac Day.

Respect is not just a word, it's an entire concept.

It's something that cannot be successfully redefined either. It is a black- and-white situation, you either respect Anzac Day and all it stands for, or you don't.

In this case, it's not the actual laws that govern commercial activity that need respect. It goes far deeper than that. The law reflects society's wish to do the right thing and stop for a morning to reflect on the sacrifice of those who fought for us. They deserve every bit of respect they get and it's not coincidental that the Anzac Day services, and in particular the dawn parades across the country, have never been more popular.

It's not coincidental that talk invariably surfaces around this time that the day would be a more suitable occasion to mark our national day - but that's another debate.

Sadly, that's why the protests by some bar and cafe owners that they did nothing wrong by opening before 1pm on Anzac Day have a hollow ring about them.

Citing a demand as a reason for opening is no defence. The law is quite specific, and Anzac Day is one of the few statutory holidays when most businesses must be shut.

It is pertinent to remember that there are only 3 1/2 days accorded such protection, which leaves 361 1/2 days of the year to open for business.

To cite the loophole that licensed premises can open and serve alcohol to those who eat food is legally correct, but it's also done with a wink and a nod in many instances. It is nothing more than a way around the law.

Section 14 of the Sale of Liquor Act is clear: "All bars and taverns must be closed unless open for the purposes of dining and all people in the premises were to be there for the purposes of dining."

The reality is many want to have a drink and if that means having to order some token food, so be it. That's why the words of Taranaki Hospitality New Zealand president David Stones were refreshingly forthright and right on the mark.

He accused fellow bar and tavern owners of being both greedy and disrespectful in opening on the morning of Anzac Day New Zealand.

"Shame on all you bars, taverns and restaurants who opened before 1pm," he said.

His sentiments would have struck a chord with many in the community. While we acknowledge the need for a vibrant and energetic hospitality sector in the CBD, and the Taranaki Daily News has long been an active supporter of the annual Halamoana Award, this was a morning to respect those who paid the ultimate price.

Even opening up an hour early to cater "for the lunchtime rush" is not acceptable.

Those brave men and women who fought to preserve our way of life didn't have the luxury of taking shortcuts.

They deserve better: Lest We Forget.

Taranaki Daily News