Rotorua's mayor says the passing of the Easter Trading Bill allowing councils to decide if shops can open on Easter Sunday has the potential to provide a big boost for local businesses.
Steve Chadwick said it would finally put Rotorua on a level playing field with other key visitor destinations.
The Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill will soon become law after passing its third reading in Parliament this week and will enable local councils to create policies (rather than bylaws) to allow Easter Sunday trading.
"Rotorua needs to be open for business to achieve its economic growth aspirations and this bill, which will enable councils to strike their own by-law regarding Easter Sunday trading, gives us the mechanism to decide for ourselves," said Mrs Chadwick.
Mrs Chadwick and Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Darrin Walsh presented submissions to a select committee earlier this year speaking in support of the bill and urging change.
"Previous legislation has blocked growth in our district, and elsewhere in New Zealand," she said.
"Easter trading will provide a huge economic boost for Rotorua - it's one of our busiest weekends of the year and entrepreneurs will see this as a chance to make Rotorua a more vibrant place."
"Workers will be protected - they'll have the right to refuse to work Easter Sunday."
Mrs Chadwick had herself made two unsuccessful attempts to change Easter trading laws when she was an MP and current Rotorua MP Todd McClay's attempt in 2009 was also unsuccessful with MPs not prepared to vote against their party lines.
Mrs Chadwick said it had been a major frustration for decades for Rotorua that it did not have the same Easter trading opportunities as locations which had exemptions, including Taupo and Queenstown.
"There should be a level playing field, the same opportunities for all. We do not know why Rotorua's place as a major tourist destination was overlooked for so long - the legislation was just not logical."
"It's fantastic we will now have that level playing field - we applaud the Government and our local MP for putting this right. Councils will now be able to work with their local businesses and communities to make decisions that are right for them," she said.
"Tourism in Rotorua has been booming and being able to open our businesses will improve our visitor experience. It's baffling for international visitors to come to an international tourist destination and find our doors closed. This has the potential to make a huge difference."
How will it work?
The Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill enables local communities, through their territorial authorities (councils), to decide if local retailers can open on Easter Sunday.
The Government has proposed further changes to the Bill, which amends the Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal Act 1990.
These changes include:
- Local authorities will be able to create local policies (rather than bylaws) to allow shop trading in defined areas on Easter Sunday. This means the Bill will be less prescriptive and maintain community choice and transparency over any decisions to allow shop trading.
-The changes will also clarify that the ability to refuse to work on Easter Sunday is extended to all shop employees.
-A 'right to refuse' provision will allow employers and employees to negotiate freely, and gives all shop employees the ability to refuse to work on Easter Sunday without any repercussions for their employment relationship.
Councils will be able to determine whether to allow shop trading on Easter Sunday and will be able to determine if that should be allowed across their entire district or in certain limited areas only.
They will not be able to prescribe what types of shops can trade.
Councils will need to consult their communities on any proposed local policy allowing shop trading on Easter Sunday. Consultation will need to be by way of the "Special Consultative Procedure" which involves calling for submissions and holding hearings.
Councils will have to review their local policy no later than five years after adopting it.
Support for Easter trading in Rotorua
An independent survey conducted in Rotorua in 2014 revealed overwhelming support for Easter trading -
- 72% of people surveyed said they supported trading on Good Friday and Easter Sunday
- 15% wanted trading on Easter Sunday only
- 8% said it should be Good Friday only
-18% did not support Easter trading
-3% did not know.
What happens now?
Having passed its third reading the bill will now be prepared by the Office of the Clerk for a Royal assent which is the final step to it becoming law. In New Zealand Royal assent is granted by the Governor-General.
The Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) will develop an information and education plan and work with Local Government New Zealand to ensure that communities are aware of the changes to the shop trading restrictions on Easter Sunday and how they will be implemented.
The effects of the law change will be seen when territorial authorities make local policies to allow for trading on Easter Sunday. This is likely to happen from Easter 2017