Govt 'out of touch' vetoing parental leave Bill – Labour

Govt 'out of touch' vetoing parental leave Bill – Labour

The Government has been true to its word and cut down Labour's paid parental leave Bill which would raise the entitlement to 26 weeks.

Though Finance Minister Bill English explicitly said he would use a financial veto to stop MP Sue Moroney's Bill, it's being condemned by the Opposition.

It passed its second reading in House by the narrowest of margins, with United Future leader Peter Dunne the deciding vote on the 60-61 ballot.

The Bill's been in committee stage, but was officially put to bed on Thursday.

Mr English has previously said he believed the Government's work in previous Budgets to increase the limit from 14 weeks to 18 weeks was about right.

However, further changes weren't ruled out.

On Thursday, Mr English said the estimated cost of the legislation would be $278 million over the next four years which he called "a significant extra, unbudgeted, cost".

Labour's plan would have increased paid parental leave incrementally to 26 weeks.

Ms Moroney says it shows the Government is "out of touch" with the pressures on families and put politics ahead of people.

"Today's decision by National to veto 26 weeks paid parental leave by 2018 exposes their contempt for the needs of children and their families.

"They have overturned a vote made by the majority of MPs after careful scrutiny of the research, evidence and financial impact. In doing so, they have put politics ahead of people," she says.

She says public support for the plan is growing and National's opposition to it is because it is a Labour policy.

The Green Party echoed that sentiment, saying the Government should be doing right by families instead of making excuses.

"All the evidence shows that the first few months of a baby's life are very important. Investing in paid parental leave will pay off through healthier, happier kids and families," workplace relations spokeswoman Denise Roche says.

"Vetoing paid parental leave isn't just bad for families, it's also anti-democratic. National has chosen to override Parliament and overrule what's best for families."

Mr Dunne, typically a government support partner, says it's ironic coming from the Government which yesterday voted through major changes to Child Youth and Family at the first reading.

He supported the legislation because United Future wants to eventually extend paid parental leave to a year.