Paid parental leave Bill passes first reading

  • 09/11/2017

A Bill that increases paid parental leave to 22 weeks from July next year and to 26 weeks from July 2020 has passed its first reading in Parliament.

Current law provides 18 weeks' paid parental leave.

The Government introduced the bill under urgency on Wednesday - the first legislation it has presented to the new Parliament.

It's on the fast track and won't go to a select committee for public submissions.

The Government doesn't think that's necessary because it is a resurrection of a Labour member's bill which went through the last Parliament until, at its last stage, the National Government killed it with a financial veto.

Former MP Sue Moroney, who backed the previous attempt to get it into law, said the Bill had already been scrutinised by MPs and passed, so there was no need to put it through the select committee process again.

"Now it can be done, and it will be," the current minister in charge of the bill, Iain Lees-Galloway, said when he opened the first reading debate.

"We will be defined as a Government by putting people at the heart of everything we do."

National has changed its mind since it vetoed Labour's bill and supports the increase. But it doesn't see why the bill needs urgency.

"There is utterly no reason for urgency," said justice spokeswoman Amy Adams. "It doesn't take effect until July 1 next year."

Ms Adams said the previous Government increased paid parental leave from 14 to 18 weeks and had intended extending it further when fiscal conditions permitted.

The Bill passed its first reading by 115 votes to one. The only MP who voted against it was ACT's David Seymour.

"There is no reason for the Government to be doing this other than that it thinks it is politically popular," he said.

"Taxpayers need protection from the continuous expansion of the entitlement culture."

The Bill is expected to go through its final stages on Thursday or next week.

NZN / Newshub.