John Key playing loose with the facts on Easter Sunday trading law

Stuff co.nz 23 August 2016
Family First Comment: “There have been numerous attempts to let shops open for business on the religious day – as many as a dozen, by some counts – with all failing to make it into the law books. So, it’s little surprise that John Key is keen to push through a new law liberalising the Easter Sunday trading rules, despite opposition from former All Black Michael Jones and Family First.”
So for the 4th time in his leadership, he is stripping his own MPs of the right to use their consciences.

For a day of rest and reflection, Easter Sunday has caused an awful lot of headaches for Kiwi politicians over the years.

There have been numerous attempts to let shops open for business on the religious day – as many as a dozen, by some counts – with all failing to make it into the law books.

So, it’s little surprise that John Key is keen to push through a new law liberalising the Easter Sunday trading rules, despite opposition from former All Black Michael Jones and Family First.

What is surprising, however, is Key’s willingness to play fast and loose with the facts when explaining why National MPs must all back the change, despite other parties treating it as a conscience vote.

While Easter trading has traditionally been treated as a personal decision for each MP, Key says the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill is different, as it leaves councils – rather than Parliament – with the final decision.

So why were National MPs allowed to use their conscience and vote against a near-identical bill from Todd McClay in 2009?

“Well, there’s a difference,” Key bluntly insisted.

And if you tilt your head, squint your eyes and look really closely, the most minor “differences” appear.

A DISTINCTION WITHOUT A DIFFERENCE
McClay’s bill would have allowed councils to decide whether shops in their area could open on Easter Sunday – using a bylaw.

The Government’s bill will allow councils to decide whether shops in their area can open on Easter Sunday – using local policy.

While there are also some tweaks to the protections for employees so they’re not forced to work Easter Sunday, the Cabinet paper for the current bill points out that it was based on McClay’s 2009 legislation.

Key is making a distinction without a difference – the bills are for all intents and purposes the same, and there’s certainly no reason for a conscience vote on one but not the other.

Of course, the real reason National MPs have to vote along party lines is because Key knows the bill would fail if they didn’t.

WILL LAW FIX INCONSISTENCIES?
There are several MPs in the party – including Deputy Prime Minister Bill English – who have voted against Easter Sunday trading in the past due to their religious beliefs.

As Key himself says, “Parliament’s gone up against that hurdle on so many occasions and failed – I think you’ve got to say we have a responsibility of trying to find another way through.”

He’s particularly vexed with the law’s current inconsistencies which mean shops in one suburb must remain closed on Easter Sunday, while those in a neighbouring area designated a tourism hot spot can open.

However, this law won’t ensure consistency – instead, we may see one council allowing Easter Sunday trading in their area, while the council next door keeps businesses closed.

The Government is essentially passing the buck to councils, leaving them to deal with the flak from pressure groups opposed to shopping at Easter.

Key acknowledges the bill is “not perfect”, but says it’s best to put the decision in the hands of local communities.

“If you can come up with something better please let me know, but I’ve been looking at it for 14 years and I haven’t found one yet.”

Clearly, Key will do whatever he can to avoid debating the issue again in the next 14 years.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/better-business/83465449/opinion-john-key-playing-loose-with-the-facts-on-easter-sunday-trading-law

MPs told to toe line on Easter trading changes
Radio NZ 23 August 2016
National MPs have been told to vote in favour of changes to Easter trading laws, despite some of them – including Bill English – being openly opposed to it.

The Easter Trading Bill, which would let local councils determine whether shops in their area can trade at Easter, is due for its third and final reading and could be before Parliament this week.

Such bills are traditionally a conscience vote for MPs.

However, all National MPs had been told they must vote in favour of the change.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English is among those who have said they were personally opposed to shops trading on Easter Sunday.

Prime Minister John Key said the government was trying to find a way through troublesome discrepancies in the current law.
READ MORE: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/top/311683/mps-told-to-toe-line-on-easter-trading-changes

National MPs back lack of conscience vote on Easter Sunday trading bill
Stuff co.nz 23 August 2016    
National MPs have backed the party’s decision to deny them a conscience vote on Easter Sunday trading, despite some being personally opposed to the move.

Prime Minister John Key has acknowledged the proposal is not perfect, but says it’s the only way to get a law change through Parliament.

Family First has joined former All Black Michael Jones in encouraging National MPs to buck their party’s line and vote down the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill, which would allow councils to decide whether or not shops could open on Easter Sunday.

Key continued to say a conscience vote wasn’t necessary, as councils and not Parliament would have the final say on trading hours – despite allowing National MPs a personal vote on a nearly identical bill from Todd McClay in 2009.

He acknowledged the bill was “not perfect”, but said it was the best that could be expected given previous failures to change the law.
READ MORE: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/83479616/National-MPs-back-lack-of-conscience-vote-on-Easter-Sunday-trading-bill
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