Thursday, May 12, 2016

No consensus on easter trading

The Commerce Committee has reported back on the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill (which would dump the problem of easter trading on local authorities), and been unable to reach a decision. National members supported the bill, with some amendments. Labour and the Greens opposed it. And NZ First were just confused about it, like they are about the rest of the modern world. The net result is that the bill will be back before the House, but without the usual amendments and improvements the select committee process provides.

This is really a reflection of the lack of social consensus outside Parliament on the issue. The easter trading ban is silly and archaic, a relic of christian oppression. But getting rid of it would replace the past, no-longer extant religious oppression with the very real, here and now oppression of your boss. And the latter is now so pervasive and extreme, that retaining an archaic trading ban put in place by a dying religion most kiwis no longer even pay lip service to looks like the better choice to many. And it doesn't help that no politician seems willing to support the blindingly obvious protective measure of a public holiday (because progressives don't want religions dictating our holidays, while capitalists don't want holidays at all)

National's bill isn't a "solution" to any of this. Instead of finding a consensus, it would simply wash their hands of the problem - while making it a perpetually active shitfight in every local authority across the country. So we won't just have a stupid law, inconsistently applied - we'll have a patchwork of such laws, their application subject to change without notice. And it will make religion, which isn't generally a political issue, an electoral issue in local body politics. This isn't a recipe for social harmony - but it would let National declare victory and go home, which is all that seems to matter to them now. Unfortunately, with National whipping their vote, it looks like this will pass.