If the Parental Leave bill passes through Parliament as expected National should reconsider their threat to veto it. With both majority Parliamentary support and strong poll support National don’t have any democratic justification for opposing it.
Increasing paid parental leave from 14 weeks to 26 weeks is supported by…
- a majority in Parliament
- a clear majority of the public
- John Key says National was not opposed to the idea in principle
…so it looks like a no-brainer to do it.
I understand the need for fiscal restraint, but Governments are always making decisions on allocating their budget for necessary expenditure. There is a strong social case for increasing paid parental leave, and there is a double dose of democratic support – Parliament and people.
A One News/Colmar poll confirms strong public support for the bill:
“Do you support extending paid parental leave to 26 weeks?”
Yes 62%No 34%Unsure 4%
Don’t support extended leave: National Party supporters 53%
So there is nearly 50% support even from National voters. Labour and Green supporters and younger people overwhelmingly support it.
John Key says:
“There’ll be a time I’m sure one day when paid parental leave will be expanded but it has to be when we can afford it and not when we’re running up bill on the credit card.”
That day should be the day this bill is passed by Parliament.
The problem is the cost, National claim that will be $150m a year. This is disputed by Labour, but remarkably:
Officials are currently working out the actual annual cost to the taxpayer of 26 weeks leave.
The cost should have been worked out long ago – like at least approximately when the bill was drafted, or at least as soon as possible after the bill was drawn from the Member’s ballot.
And Labour don’t help their case when they are bombing the MRP share float, which will cost the country money – coincidentally by $100-200 million by some estimates.
But National should allow what Parliament and the people want.
If they veto the Parental Leave bill, especially at this stage of their second term, they risk a voter backlash, and that would be justified.
Democracy demands no National veto of the Parental Leave bill.