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Labour MP's paid parental leave bill passes first reading

UPDATE / July 26: A bill that would extend paid parental leave from 14 to 26 weeks passed its first reading in parliament last night.

As expected, the Maori Party and United Future MP Peter Dunne, who usually vote with National, supported the private member's bill, introduced by Labour MP sue Moroney.

Finance Minister Bill English says the government will use a special financial veto power to stop the bill becoming law.

There is provision for the government to veto bills which trigger more spending or taxation, even if parliament votes for those bills.

Mr English says the bill would cost $500 millon over three years.

Ms Moroney says she has Department of Labour advice estimating the cost at $285.6 million over the period.

A second Labour-backed private member's bill, for "Monday-ised" holidays, also passed yesterday.

Government to veto paid parental leave bill

April 10: Extending paid parental leave will not be a priority even when the government returns to surplus.

The issue of paid parental leave was thrown up again this week when Labour MP Sue Moroney's private members bill, extending paid parental leave to six months, was pulled out of the parliamentary ballot.

Unlike many other countries, New Zealand paid parental leave is funded out of general taxation rather than a levy on employers.

Acting Prime Minister Bill English told a media briefing this afternoon the government would use its veto to stop the bill becoming law, even if the bulk of Parliament voted for it, as the current numbers indicate.

The bill is backed by Maori Party and United Future MPs, who normally vote with the government.

There is provision for the government to veto bills which trigger more spending or taxation, even if Parliament votes for those bills.

"It's very important for parents and children to be getting support ... that's why we've maintained support like paid parental leave. It's a bit soon to be trying to expand entitlements when our big challenge has been to maintain them as they are, so we are likely to veto that bit," Mr English says.

"It's a bit surprising, not having heard much from the Labour Party all year, their first thing is to borrow half a billion dollars over four years for this proposition."

Parliament could "vote for all sorts of irresponsible things", but the government had to find the money to pay for them.

The extension of paid parental leave in the bill would cost an extra $150 million a year, he says.

Even if the government's books returned to surplus by the end of the 2015 financial year, as planned, there are other priorities, Mr English says.

These include building up the Earthquake Commission's natural disaster fund after the Canterbury earthquakes cleaned it out, and also restarting payments into the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.

More by Rob Hosking and NBR staff

Comments and questions

Sounds like China they have political parties other than the Communist Party but they have no say in anything also.

What an irresponsible comment.

Please ask yourself: how can employers afford to pay a 6-month parental leave.

We can't afford this. If this bill gets through, I'll think of a way to fire any expecting employee. It's ridiculous to shell out $50k per employee for absolutely no work done for my company.

The issue is that Bill english can veto the majority decision of the government. Why bother with 120 MPS why not have a vote once every 3 years and elect a dictator. This is not a democratic process.

By the way the government funds the costs not by your business. your attitude makes me very glad I do not work for you.

thinking about this 119 MPs at $120,000 a year - that is $150m - so this is self funding if we go to a dictatorship.

Might want to check your maths.
$120K x 121MPs is $14.5M not $150M.

The government funds the costs!!!!!!!. The government does not have money. IT is always someone elses money.

Bill English is quite rightly and desperately putting the breaks on endless stupidity.

Julie attacked my comment re this being undemocratic - i.e. China. I did not argue for or against the bill. I pointed out how disappointed I was to discover that the minority party can over rule the majority - what is the point of our democratic process. By the way apparently Labor did this also.

I pointed out to Julie - lets sack anyone who might cost me money (slavery is illegal) - was that she as an employer did not pay the government did, so her objection was not factually sound.

Can we afford it - probably not, we cannot afford a lot of things, but I personally think the over riding of the demoncratic process is worth more than $150m.

Hear, hear!

It's a veto by the majority. Educate yourself.

"your attitude makes me very glad I do not work for you." - it is your attitude that keeps you toiling for others (forever).

Bill English has said he will veto the bill even if passed (that is by the majority of parliament) so that is by default a minority decision. Yes National has a confidence and supply agreement to give them a majority but this bill does not appear to be covered by that. The point is that the Maori Party and United First are likely to back this bill so it will get passed. With English saying he will veto will guarantee that the others vote for it - nothing to lose.

What is worst is that English has said without even bothering to listen to the debate it is a dead duck. Unfortunatley we will pay MPs to sit around in parliament and discuss this - pointless waste of money - given the dictators position.

By the way you do not know what I do, I actually have my own business and have until this year employed upwards of 10 people. I have exited that business to foucs on a personal investment portfolio in private businesses.

My issue is and will remain that it is the lack of a democratic process that is the issue for me.

This shows you how NZ employers operate today. This Glasgow woman would "think of a way" to sack expectant employees, not because of issues such as the employees' ability, but because she didn't favour such a law. Disgraceful.

Any money you are forced to hand over does not go to you as owner. Most business owners in NZ are already severely underpaid on half what they could be making working for someone else on the hope one day the hard work will pay off

Good on Bill English. We want our people independent, resourceful and resilient. People who make decisions based on their circumstances and not expecting others to pay for what they want.

How is it that the majority can support an issue like paid parental leave, but it gets thrown out? I thought NZ was a democracy? Its not like the government doesnt have money to throw at things they want to support hhmm... like the South Canterbury Finance bailout (that was awesome).

There is no way that the government wanted to support South Canterbury Finance. They rightly or wrongly were forced to by Australia protecting their deposit money and we had to do the same.

The capital flight out of NZ would have been massive.

Labour used the same vetto power around 20 times

Hate to state the obvious, but the majority is the coalition govt that WON the election. And they are doing what they were elected to do - manage the country's finances, not pander to expensive social programmes as is the socialist vote-buying preference. . This is representative parliamentary democracy - the most votes form a govt and make decisions. Try to get it right.

Agree with Mr English,

This is a balance thing,
What exists is reasonable, extending limits money in other areas for government spending ( kiwisaver ),
If you can't financially plan and afford to have kids then don't have any.
My kids were attending daycare at 3 months allowing the parent to go back to work part time. After 3 years your daycare becomes subsidized again by the government anyway.
If this wasnt veto'ed, don't complain about the cuts to your superannuation or pension plans or even a GST increase, you can't have everything.
Remember that America is a good example of government debt. If we don't reduce the debt then we the taxpayer start paying interest on that debt.
America defaulted on a large part of theirs and had their credit rating cut by Standard + Poors.
We've had our credit rating downgraded as well which means we pay higher interest on borrowed money. Therefore tax + interest + credit downgrade= even higher taxes.
We need to reduce the government debt and get out of the red.
This is why Labour lost the last election with their old policies of beneficial spending. It wasn't doing us any good as a country.
If you want to be angry at someone, take a look at local government, ie City Councils and check out the spending and the debt they are accumulating, they're having a field day. Same applies as above except we pay for it not through taxes but through rates increases. It's extortion!

I agree with the above mentioned comment

Good comments that probably only scratches the surface.

We are so drugged on benefits and handouts we have lost sight of the destruction it causes. 600.000 on superannuation, 400.000 on WFF,350,000 on direct welfare, thousands on ACC etc,etc.On and on and now wanting more PPL.

We have got to turn around thinking to produce citizens who are independent, resilient and who are responsible for their own decisions. Not expecting everyone else to pay.

Here, here....well said!

I find it rather ironic that the labour party colours are in fact red. Given their monetary policy it seems very apt don't you think?

Indeed!, In the words of a famous kiwi song, " I see red!"

Good on you Julie - some of us had to learn the hard way so I don't see why we should pay for these mums to stay home longer. 15 yrs ago I had my daughter and decided to take 3 months off work to stay home with her - did I mention we didn't 'GET PAID' in those days to stay home? After just one month I had no choice but to return to work as I needed money to pay the mortgage, bills and food. My partner and I were both working so Social Welfare made it clear I was only entitled to $40 a week and must pay the lot back when I return to work which I turned down and went back to work just after one month at home.
Now, everyone's complaining about not getting enough pay/support and time at home with their kids. How about putting them in daycare and get back to work like the rest of us. My daughter turned out great just like every other kids out there with working parents. The young mum on the NZ herald this morning is sitting on the couch with her little girl and a 'wow' laptop on her lap - meaning, more time at home to play games with no interruptions when baby is asleep??? No worries - Labour Party will borrow more money to help you!
But wait - if you have another child and another one and another one - Labour Party will definitely pay you a lot more to stay home permanent - a lot more than working parents - perfect advise for your young generations!
If you can't afford to have kids - please don't!

What an excellent letter.

Last night on TV3 news one of the whingers was a whinging pom.
She belaboured (Pun intended) the fact that if she had stayed in the UK she would have had 52 weeks of paid parental leave.
Well she can, she just needs to go back to the UK and bludge of them. look at what a great lesson to us all that has been.

Its a shame He just cant veto Labour altogether. They obviously have no idea about economics at all. NZ must stop the hand outs reduce taxes and the cost of living. It is unsustainable.

Hhmmm, I guess longer paid parental leave for mothers would be beneficial under this bill....perhaps until menopause, due to employers being reluctant to hire anyone that is able to have children...

Anonymous, to be a purely democratic process surely there would have to be no prime minister? It would simply be an us versus them vote constantly to pass what the people want.
A quote by Franklin Roosevelt; Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.
I feel comfortable in trusting Mr English's educated decision, it's not a lack of democratic process. It's a decision made for the financial benefit of the country at present against those that perhaps have rose coloured glasses on...

Well Said!

This whole business just shows how out of touch Labour is with basic economics. Even the stupid would have too think twice about how this is going to be paid for. Labour has already proven they can't do maths.

I wonder if you have forgotten the recent economic endangerment by our current government, when it gave very expensive tax cuts to those on the top marginal tax rate. I believe this shows National is out of touch with basic economics (as you say Labour is), it was very expensive and we are all paying for it still, with increased borrowing needed to pay it.

Why should the rich decry this and not their "bonus" in these tough times? Maybe an increase in the top tax rate would pay for those most needing PPL, benefitting our youngest members of society, our future leaders?

The top marginal rate are still paying a lot more in tax than those on the lower incomes, as for GST we're all in it together.
You assume people on higher incomes are rich and receive bonuses? An un-informed generalization. The ones that are wouldn't account for much more than 1%.
The younger generation have been doing very well out of the government for the past 10 years with their interest free student loans accruing debt and leaving university with a qualification (if any?), no work experience and cirrhosis of the liver. Now they are protesting in the streets because their easy money is coming to and end. It's about time they started getting off their backsides and started doing apprenticeships again and restoring some skills back into our workforce.

The bonus I referred to was the tax reduction when 30% is now paid instead of 38/39%, not cash payments from employers - sorry to confuse you.

I get the irony of the "older generation" commenting on students being ungrateful for interest-free student loans, when they benefitted from not having to pay exorbitant fees to study. These students would also like work at the end of their studies (I spotted this theme on the cover of this week's Listener) - jobs are actually hard to come by.

I would assume anyone paying the top tax rate and wasn't rich was still benefitting from a higher standard of living than the poor, even if they choose not to invest their more-than-minimum=wage pay :-)

31 comments!!, and about five of them indicate that the writer understands basic economics, and more importantly has a grasp on NZ's precarious financial state.
A state legislated by the Clark /Cullen mismangement Team, who were real dictators.
The remainder of the comments are obviously from the 'hands out' brigade, and the Duty Bloggers of the Labour Party and unions.

Wonder why Labour didn't do the paid parental leave caper when they sat on the treasury benches for nine years. Also, is this the greatest need at the moment for NZ? Shame on Peter Dunne ,would have thought he was more intelligent.Seems Dunne won his seat on the pretext he would have the child support shared maintenance bill through by June2012.Next time he wont get my vote,seems he runs with the hounds and the hares.Will i trust his election promises again?yeah!right!

This generation of 'baby producers' need to realise one thing...If you can't afford to look after yourself and any off-spring '...don't have the off-spring..It's not 'rocket science'. As a father of two (both successful professionals) we got no help in raising our kids. No family benefit; No 'working for families; No paid parental leave; No free 20 hours child care. This generation are mentally weak and are well and truly indicative of the destructive 'hand-out' mentality which is so engrained in the population of this country.

There should be no parental leave at all.

Nobody owes anybody anything. It is not government money, its a transfer of someone elses earnings. A freezing worker, shearer, minor, fisherman, dairy worker, who starts at 5am is expected to pay for this nonscense.

Just more socialist dreaming and im amazed Peter Dunne is a part of it.

NZ must be aware of Jacinda Adhern. She comes from exceptionally strong socialist countries. Polices that would generally disgust most Nzers. Be very, very aware