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Religious leaders fight holy day shopping

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Thou shalt shop for no longer.

That’s the commandment from religious and union leaders who say politicians must love, honour and obey existing retail trading hours.

Four-and-a-half days are at present restricted retail trading days in NSW, with shops forced to secure an exemption if they want to open on Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Anzac Day (up to 1pm), Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Christian Democrat MP Rev Fred Nile is concerned NSW may be considering extending trading hours on those days.

He says there’s been “very heavy pressure” from the retail industry to introduce 24-hour, seven day-a-week trading across the country.

“We don’t want to give them an inch at this stage to encourage them to make any changes at all,” he told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

NSW Treasurer and Industrial Relations Minister Mike Baird said the modernisation of retail trading laws in the state was “well overdue”.

The government was committed to providing more choice to retailers, employees and consumers and introduced a bill to parliament in 2012 with that objective.

Despite the bill being withdrawn because of a lack of support in the upper house, the government would be examining “all options” to provide shops with the choice to open on Boxing Day, he said.

“It makes no sense that around a third of the state can trade on Boxing Day following exemptions for ‘tourist trading precincts’ approved by previous governments, but the rest cannot,” the treasurer said in a statement.

Wesley Mission CEO Rev Keith Garner fears moves to ease trading rules on Boxing Day will pave the way for more shops to be allowed to stay open on religious holidays.

“If we lose these days, we’ll never get them back,” he said.

“Once Boxing Day goes, it won’t be long before people say, `Well, what’s up with Good Friday?'”

Australian National Retailers Association chief Margy Osmond dismissed those concerns as outdated.

“I don’t know which decade they’re living in – I get a whiff of the 1950s about this,” she said.

“The way people want to shop, when and where they want to shop, is very different (to the 1950s).”[polldaddy poll=7871713]

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