THOMAS MANCH 09:50, August 26 2016
DAVID WHITE FAIRFAX MEDIA
David Tua speaks out against Easter Trading
The Government has handed councils the power to decide if shops can open on Easter Sunday ending a decades-long parliamentary impasse and after a dozen previous attempts.
After an insult-laden debate in the house, in which one MP was kicked out, the bill passed by a narrow majority of 62 votes to 59.
The campaign against the legislation, which brought former boxer David Tua into Parliament to weigh in on the matter, failed to knock it out of the ring.
Pressure is mounting on the National party to allow its MPs to cast a conscience vote on Easter trading legislation for its final reading, rather than be forced to toe the party line.
National MPs opted to back the bill along party lines, leading to impassioned pleas from the opposition for them to ignore orders and cross the floor to vote according to their conscience.
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Labour MP Sue Moroney was booted out of the house, for the first time, for calling Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse "gutless".
Deputy Speaker Chester Borrows asked Moroney to withdraw her comments, which she did, only to reiterate her point.
She said National MPs were "hypocritical", attending church in their electorates, only to come to the House and vote the other way.
Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway backed Moroney in a fiery speech, calling upon National MPs to "get some guts".
"The Government ... is passing the buck on an issue, which is fundamental to the role of the New Zealand Parliament.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ
John Key did not allow National MPs to have a free vote on the Easter Sunday trading law which has just passed the House.
"This legislation is shambolic, it is going to create inconsistencies around the country," Lees-Galloway said.
Both Labour and Green MPs argued it was unrealistic for employees, especially women working in retail, to take a personal grievance against an employer who insisted they work.
"They have no idea what it means to try and say no to your boss," Green spokesperson for workplace relations Denise Roche said.
But National MPs said the law would "give power back to the local community".
Jami-Lee Ross said it was "a process issue that should be given to local authorities".
Employee rights were built into the bill, he said.
Ross accused Labour of "awful tactics", using ethnic and religious rhetoric in their protest against the bill.
Simon O'Connor said the party's members had not been whipped into a unified vote on the bill.
He said that was little difference to the opposition, who all voted against the law at its second reading.
'I'll keep fighting'
David Tua was at Parliament for the vote, hitting out at National for denying their MPs a conscience vote.
He was disappointed the bill passed, but said he would now carry on his fight to local government.
"It's a good fight, we've got to keep fighting, you know, it's not the end of it.
"You know when there are things that are dear to your heart you've got to fight for them," he said.
Tua, a devout Christian, said Easter Sunday was one of the most important days for his faith and a chance for all Kiwis to enjoy a rest and spend time with their families.
Another sporting heavyweight, former All Black Michael Jones, had already urged Pacific MPs to vote against the law, saying it would stop people from spending the day with their church and families.
"If the Government's reforms go ahead many New Zealanders will miss out on the opportunity to spend Easter Sunday with their church, their communities and their families.
"Our community doesn't want the Government interfering with Easter Sunday. We want to keep Sunday special."