Rotorua wants the same rights to trade at Easter as other centres to support and enhance growth in the district, Mayor Steve Chadwick has told a select committee in Wellington.
A Commerce Select Committee were hearing submissions to the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill today which proposes enabling councils to create bylaws allowing Easter Sunday trading and enabling shop workers to refuse to work on that day.
Speaking in support of a Rotorua Lakes Council submission to the Bill, Mrs Chadwick said Rotorua had reinvented itself and was experiencing growth.
"To underpin [growth initiatives] and maintain that momentum we need to be open for business. Simple as that," she said.
Allowing businesses in some locations to trade at Easter but preventing others from doing so was a "ridiculous situation".
She did not know why Rotorua's place as a major tourist destination was overlooked when exemptions were granted to other centres in 1997, she told the committee, saying the current situation was illogical and had created ongoing frustration.
"There have been many attempts over the last 10 years to correct this anomaly and hopefully this is the last," she said.
"While some Rotorua residents would oppose change and had a right to do so, a survey of 400 locals in 2014 showed clear support - 79%- for allowing shops, hospitality and entertainment outlets to trade at Easter"
"Times have changed . . . Please don't let location, sectoral or family interests prevail over common sense." "If you are truly concerned about the protection of workers from coercion and their genuine need to be protected if they don't want to work, then ask yourself this: How are those who choose to work in all districts currently on the [exemption] schedule protected from these very same concerns?"
Also speaking in support of the Bill, Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Darrin Walsh said Rotorua businesses wanted a level playing field.
Easter weekend was one of Rotorua's busiest visitor weekends of the year with an estimated 35,000 visitors per day during that holiday period.
"It was important the district was able to provide a full package to its visitors" said Mr Walsh.
"This amendment bill is a step in the right direction but does not go all the way. We would like our business owners to have the choice of opening not only on Easter Sunday but Good Friday as Well. There are towns already that have exemptions in place to allow them to trade on these days."
Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill information:
- The Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill proposes to amend the Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal Act 1990 to grant territorial authorities a limited power to create bylaws that allow shop trading on Easter Sunday, and enable shop workers to refuse work on Easter Sunday.
- In 2003 a Members Bill submitted by Mayor Chadwick when she was Rotorua MP made it to a second reading but was defeated 63 to 55.
- In 2009 current Rotorua MP Todd McClay lost his Bill 64 to 57.
2014 Colmar Brunton Survey of 400 Rotorua residents (aged 18 and over)
-79% said shops, hospitality/entertainment businesses should be allowed to trade at Easter;
-18% said they should not be allowed to trade at Easter;
-3% said they did not know;
-Of those who said Easter trading should be allowed, 72% said businesses should be able to trade on both Good Friday and Easter Sunday; 15% said Easter Sunday only;
- More than 8 in 10 residents said they would frequent shops and hospitality/entertainment businesses if they were open;
- Eating out and shopping would be the most popular activities.