The Easter weekend trading laws aren't working and need an overhaul, Prime Minister John Key says.

His comments come after 18 complaints were made about businesses flouting Easter weekend trading laws this year, but none will be prosecuted.

"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 and if they were to be changed it would come from a shift in the majority of voters in Parliament.


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

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

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 inspectors would not visit their town this year. Most stayed open, taking advantage 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 member's bill was voted down.

23 Apr, 2014 10:00am
3 minutes to read

Ms Dean was 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 that a government department could give "a nod and a wink" to traders that it wouldn't enforce the laws, and for a government MP to then claim it as grounds for a review 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."