U-turn on paid leave boosts parents' hopes

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 08:15 16/12/2013

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New parents could start receiving six months of paid parental leave as early as July and supporters of Sue Moroney's bill say every dollar would be money well spent.

The Government's U-turn on using a financial veto on the paid parental leave bill has been seen as a win for families and YWCA manager Anne Bennett said it would be an investment in the future.

"We are worth it," she said. "Babies, women, families are worth it and we have to make the investment right where it counts."

Moroney's paid parental leave bill was drawn from the hat in April last year to go before Parliament but the Government threatened to veto the bill even if it passed a vote in the House, saying it was unaffordable.

Earlier estimates put the cost of 26 weeks of leave at $150 million each year but Bennett said the recovering economy and common sense had prevailed.

"I give credit that the economy is improving, the Government has done well as far as I can see to balance the books. New Zealand is faring reasonably well it would seem in the global financial economy."

A select committee report on the bill was due in Parliament this week before a delay was requested so the Government could reconsider its stance.

The YWCA made submissions on the bill and while Bennett was encouraged by the Government's softened stance, she said it could become a political hot potato. "It's the type of thing for women that might be an election maker or breaker, given that women are more than half the population of New Zealand if we exercise our vote."

Bennett said everyone needed to contribute to the economy and the way to do that was to ensure stability in the home. "You want to have the situation at home settled as best as possible, you want to be able to breast feed as long as possible and then carry on as necessary when you are at work."

Moroney, Labour's spokeswoman for social development, said there was still work to do to get the bill across the line.

She said the lifting of the financial veto was a real breakthrough and indications were strong that her bill would proceed to its third reading.

"If the negotiations go well between myself and the Government . . . then that's a very real prospect. The only thing standing in my way for the bill . . . was in fact the financial veto."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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