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PM supports Easter trading law changes

PM supports Easter trading law changes

Ashburton’s council has no plans to change its Easter trading laws - but there could be another avenue, as the Prime Minister expresses support for relaxed rules.

The Shop Trading Hours Act restricts some businesses from opening on Good Friday and Easter Sunday – as well as Christmas Day and the first half of Anzac Day.

An amendment in 2016 allowed councils to adopt their own Easter trading policies, which regulate whether other businesses and retailers can open on Easter Sunday on top of the essential services already allowed.

But the Ashburton District Council decided in 2017 not to create its own policy, democracy and engagement group manager Toni Durham said.

During the process, there was little demand for a policy from local retailers, with only one of the 80 businesses consulted indicating a desire for a policy.

The decision not to adopt a policy doesn’t require a review as only existing policies are reviewed every five years, she said.

“Council hasn’t indicated a desire to prepare an Easter Sunday trading policy.

“This means the Shop Trading Hours Act dictates whether shops can open or not, not council.”

Canterbury, Hurunui, Kaikōura, Mackenzie and Timaru district councils all have Easter trading policies.

Any council policy is not binding and businesses can decide whether or not they wish to open on Easter Sunday.

Whether it be governed by legislation or local council, some businesses deliberately breach the law and wear any fine incurred – with two supermarkets in Wanaka doing so this year.

That could change, with Prime Minister Christopher Luxon telling RNZ he thinks “our Easter trading laws do need to be upgraded and changed”.

The matter was not included in the 36-point action list unveiled by the Government on Tuesday for the next three months, meaning Easter trading is not a priority.

“It's something that the minister will look at in due course, it's not a priority for us this particular quarter,” Luxon said.

By Jonathan Leask