'Hard-nosed' Moroney won't compromise on parental leave

The World Health Organisation recommends babies be breast-fed exclusively for the first six months (file)
The World Health Organisation recommends babies be breast-fed exclusively for the first six months (file)

Labour MP Sue Moroney is confident her latest paid parental leave Bill has the numbers to pass into law, but fears the Government will use its financial veto to sink it.

The Parental Leave and Employment Protection Amendment Bill was one of four Labour MP members' Bills drawn from the ballot yesterday. It's almost identical to one that was first debated in 2012.

That Bill had the numbers to pass, but National managed to delay its progress through Parliament until after the 2014 election, the Government's increased majority meaning it no longer had to threaten to use the financial veto. It was voted down in May.

Since then parental leave has increased to 16 weeks, and next year will rise to 18 – but Ms Moroney says she won't be making any compromises in her push to make it 26 weeks.

"When I did try to get what I thought were very reasonable compromises with the Government last time round, they just played politics over those issues. I'll be a lot more hard-nosed about it this time round," she told Newstalk ZB.

Parental groups are urging the Government to let Ms Moroney's latest Bill through, if it has the numbers.

"This is something that's not that expensive, is extremely well-supported and has Parliamentary support. All we want National to do is not veto it," Rebecca Matthews of 26 For Babies told RadioLIVE.

"So many of even their own supporters know that it's a good policy and they know that we're not doing enough to support new parents."

Finance Minister Bill English says the Bill won't change the Government's current plans.

"I wouldn't want to jump ahead of actually considering the issue, but, as I said, our policy position won't be changed by the fact the bill's been drawn," he told Newstalk ZB.

Ms Matthews says parents and would-be mums and dads will be making their voices heard.

"We'll be springing back into action and making it very clear, as we did last time – lots of public submissions in favour of increasing paid parental leave."

The World Health Organisation recommends babies be breast-fed exclusively for the first six months of their lives.

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