Democracy demands no National veto of Parental Leave bill

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.

Leave a comment


  1. Most new parents already stay home for 6 months or more and fund the difference themselves.

    • That’s probably right – but the point I’m making is that whatever the arguments for and against, if Parliament passes the bill and there is a clear majority public support then it would be clearly undemocratic to veto the bill.

  2. And perhaps the point I’m making is that if the public understood the situation as it stands, they might be less inclined to support spending more.

    • Perhaps National could take some time to understand that the public appears to put a lot of value in supporting families, and especially investing in the first six months of a baby’s life.

  3. Darryl

     /  29th April 2013

    I agree with John Key, the country simply can’t afford to extend Parental Leave AT THE MOMENT. Just because the Left think it is a great idea, does not mean it is the right thing to do. One should stop and think, can we afford to be having a child, and not be relying on the Government. It is called being responsible. I support the National Government fully, and one should consider themselves lucky to get 14 weeks.


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