Christian Democrats leader Fred Nile has split with church leaders in his support of legislation that will extend Boxing Day trading across the state.
Mr Nile’s vote ensured state government legislation to expand Boxing Day trading passed the NSW Parliament Upper House on Wednesday night.
Mr Nile told Fairfax Media he supported the legislation on the basis that Christmas Day would be protected and that maximum fines would be imposed on employers who coerced employees to work on Boxing Day.
He said church leaders were happy to accept the legislation because “we have a guarantee from the government there will be no changes to any legislation dealing with Christmas Day”.
“We are supporting the Boxing Day trading Bill as the people of NSW outside city and tourist areas need the opportunity to shop,” he said.
However, Christian leaders, including the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, are opposed to the legislation and have urged all Upper House MPs to “put families ahead of economic pressures”.
“I am very concerned by the erosion of quality family time that this legislation will have,” Archbishop Fisher said.
“Opening stores on Boxing Day will only strip many workers and their families of this increasingly rare time with their loved ones.
“Families are already subject to a vortex of social and economic forces and this measure will only heighten community fragmentation and family breakdown.”
The Australian Christian Lobby on Wednesday called on the Berejiklian government to abandon the legislation which would lead to families sacrificing valuable family holiday time.
“Even though the government assures workers they won’t be forced to work, anyone who’s held a casual or part-time job knows that there is always pressure to work public holidays,” ACL NSW director Kieren Jackson said.
Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association NSW branch secretary Bernie Smith said it was concerned workers would be pressured to work on…