Thursday, December 20, 2012

A good question

At Easter this year, Oderings garden centres opened their doors in violation of the law - just as they have every year since 1970. As a result, they were today fined the maximum amount of $1,000 per store. But while doing so, the judge asked a good question:

When the case last called, Judge Gary Macaskill said the Government's labour service should take stronger legal steps to stop businesses from flagrantly flouting public holiday trading bans.

"I noted some time ago that if the Department of Labour was serious about nurseries and other similar business opening on these days, then they should go to the High Court and ask for an injunction to stop them from doing so. But they don't, and one wonders why," Judge Macaskill said.

So, why doesn't the Department of Labour - now MoBIE - do this? After all, it is their job to enforce the law, and the current system is clearly not working. An injunction would be easily obtainable, the costs are not going to be any higher than the current wasted prosecutions, and unlike those, it would actually be effective (in that garden centres which did open would be in contempt of court and open to some fairly strong penalties - including the jailing of their management).

Or is the real problem that the Department of Labour doesn't actually want to enforce the law effectively...?