For release: Monday 21st March 2011

The Australian Christian Lobby is calling on the Victorian Government to reconsider its proposal for trading on Easter Sunday when a bill to usher in the change is debated in Parliament later this week.

Victorian State Director Rob Ward said the ACL supported the retention of the general ban on shops trading on Easter Sunday in Victoria.

“Easter Sunday is an important tradition valued by society and should not be competed with by shopping. Sixty-four per cent of Australians identify themselves as Christians and Easter Sunday is an important religious event that Christians remember,” he said.

Mr Ward said the Shop Trading Reform Amendment (Easter Sunday) Bill will do away with almost all restrictions on trading on Easter Sunday.

“Victoria has just 3.5 days out of 365 where trading is not permitted. For the other 361.5 days, shops can trade 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” he said.

The Bill was passed in the Legislative Assembly along party lines, but the ACL now calls on all parties to reconsider this important issue in light of its impact on families and people of faith.

“There is no evidence of a major community push to have even more hours to spend their money, so why the urgency for change?” Mr Ward said.

“The Bill impacts on freedom of religion (as accepted by the Government in its introduction of the Bill) because it reduces the ability of people to practice their faith,” he said.

“While there are some limits under various awards that require employers to cater for employees’ religious practices, there is no doubt that pressure will be placed on Christians who would normally worship on this most important day in the Christian calendar.

“If other places around the world can set aside this day without suffering economic fallout, so can Victoria,” he said.

Media Contact: Katherine Spackman on 0408 875 979.