Easter Sunday trading decision set to be handed to councils despite opposition

Councils are set to have the power to allow local businesses to open on Easter Sunday despite some strong opposition in Parliament.

Governemnt is pushing forward a bill to allow councils to decide who can trade on Easter Sunday. Source: 1 NEWS

The aim is to get rid of anomalies that see places like Queenstown open for business but nearby Wanaka closed.

Parliament's Commerce Committee is in deadlock over a bill to allow shops to open if councils decide they should. 

A five-five vote on the bill means the Government has failed to pass the changes at select committee it wanted.

But Employment Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse will push through with the bill, and changes, despite that.

The bill will see councils develop local policies so businesses can open if the community wishes.

But Labour's Iain Lees-Galloway says the minister is washing his hands of what is a contentious issue in Parliament by passing the buck on to councils. 

Local Government New Zealand head Lawrence Yule says councils want to have the power to make their own decisions.

But Mr Lees-Galloway disagrees, saying many individual councils have expressed concerns about the proposals and want the Government to make the decision.

Easter trading laws back in the spotlight Source: 1 NEWS

Many MPs have tried to pass legislation allowing businesses to open at Easter in the past, but have failed due to pressure from churches and unions.

The Government insists any worker who doesn't want to work on Easter Sunday will not be forced to, and if they are, they'll be able to complain to the Labour Inspectorate.

But Mr Lees-Galloway says many of those workers are low paid and vulnerable and will find it very difficult to stand up to bosses.

The Government now hopes to pass the bill in time for councils to have made decisions about their local areas by next Easter.