Easter trading: 18 complaints, no prosecutions

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Eighteen complaints were made about businesses flouting Easter Weekend trading laws this year, but none will be prosecuted.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation (MBIE), the Government department responsible for administering the legislation, said the number of complaints was down from 46 last year.

As none of had received warnings or been prosecuted previously, none would be prosecuted for their defiance.

"MBIE's enforcement approach for Easter this year was the same as for last year," spokeswoman Philippa Norman said.

"For businesses which MBIE has received a complaint about, but has not previously prosecuted or recently warned, it will issue a warning letter.

"For businesses where a complaint follows warning or prosecution, MBIE may investigate with a view to prosecuting and seeking a fine."

Last year two businesses were visited by MBIE inspectors and both were subsequently prosecuted - one was fined $1000, the other $500.

Wanaka retailers were reportedly tipped-off that no inspectors would be visiting their town this year.

As a result, the majority stayed open, taking advantage of an influx of about 100,000 visitors in town for the Warbirds over Wanaka International Airshow.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean told Radio New Zealand she was aware inspectors would not be visiting.

She said she had twice attempted to introduce legislation exempting Easter trading rules in Wanaka, but her private members bill was voted down.

Ms Dean was now speaking with colleagues about making changes to retail trading hours and liquor licensing laws to get around the Easter trading legislation.

Labour Party labour issues spokesman Andrew Little said the idea that a Government department could give "a nod and a wink" to traders that it wouldn't enforce the trading laws, and a Government MP to then claim it as grounds for a review of the law, was mockery.

"Reports from Wanaka and other parts of the country make it clear the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has just given up enforcing the relevant legislation."

One business which has openly flouted the trading law is gardening centre chain Oderings.

The company's director, Darryn Odering, said not a single MBIE official came through any of the company's 10 stores this year, despite him receiving a warning letter two days before Good Friday.

"Common sense is winning the day."

In 2012, Oderings received around $13,000 in fines and last year around $1300, Mr Odering said. He described the law was "outdated and ridiculous".

"People in this day and age should be able to shop any day that they like. I think the fact that we are so well supported bears out that people want to be able to get in their gardens and do work around their houses before the winter. It's an archaic law."

While Mr Odering's stores were open all Easter Weekend, he planned on respecting trading laws on ANZAC Day and not opening until after 1pm as the day was more important to New Zealanders, he said.

Prime Minister John Key said today the Easter trading law wasn't working and needed an overhaul.

"I don't think the law is working terribly well, but I've always voted in favour of liberalisation of trading laws when it comes to Easter weekend,'' Mr Key said.

He said the Easter trading laws would always be a conscience vote.

- APNZ

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