A plea to Ardern on Paid Parental Leave

Both Labour and National are playing politics on Paid Parental Leave.

Labour insisted legislation needed to be passed under urgency – with a plan to increase PPL by four weeks next July, and by another four weeks in 2020 (for a total of 26 weeks). That doesn’t sound very urgent.

Then National proposed an amendment – to give parents the choice how they shared that leave – one parent could take it all, or one could reduce theirs while the other could get some leave too.

This was opposed by Labour who said they wouldn’t allow leave for the mother to be reduced, even if she wanted to. That’s nuts.

A more solid argument is that it would require re-writing and more work, and that should be dealt with at another time. But given that there is no real urgency making a good bill better should be given some sort of priority.

Duncan Garner slams Labour:  Pathetic, petty and poor form, Labour. Dads matter too

So why is it just for mums? Why can’t families split the 26 weeks so mum and dad can share it, spend time together, bond with baby? Because Labour says it’s best for mum to have 26 weeks with baby. Bullkaka. Plunket says flexibility would be good. Stop while you’re well behind.

What is Labour to be telling us what’s best for our families? It has no right. No-one is asking for a dollar more. We just want flexibility for mum and dad to take the time together. I would have taken it – it would have been so very welcome.

No, this is a case of Labour throwing its toys out of the cot. Labour can’t see past its own nose on this one.

It doesn’t want to pick up the flexible approach because it’s National’s idea. Plain and simple. It can’t be seen to be accommodating the baby blues when the Nats saw red over paid parental leave in the first place.

This is truly pathetic from Labour on an overall policy that most support.

Nothing National is asking for will cost more, it’s a disgraceful, short-sighted, pathetic and petty decision by Labour to deny families the chance for mum and dad to share the early weeks together at home.

Of course National is grandstanding. Yes, their record on this issue is poor. But on the flexibility argument they are right.

All it takes now is for Labour to listen.

All this happened while Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was out of the country.

But now she’s back she could fix it. The PM could say families are too important to get this wrong. As a father, Jacinda Ardern, I urge you to do it.

Are you really a positive new government that cares for people and doesn’t leave people behind?

If you are all that, then do the right thing. Allow families the right to decide their own future.

I know you’re planning to make it flexible later anyway, so do it now. Give families the right to choose, after all, it’s their life, their baby. Over to you now Jacinda. What will it be?

Will Ardern step in and do something about this? She was asked about it in Question Time on Thursday (edited transcript):

Hon Paula Bennett: Why is the Government opposed to parents having flexibility in how they use their paid parental leave?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I thank the Opposition for bringing forward their suggestion. I personally see merit in the amendment they’ve suggested; that’s why we’ve said we’ll look into it next year.

Hon Paula Bennett: Why doesn’t the Government then send the bill to select committee to consider the changes, given that they do not take effect until 1 July 2018?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The current legislation that’s been considered under urgency has gone through a select committee process twice. That’s why we’ve suggested—[Interruption] That’s why we’ve suggested that…

Hon Paula Bennett: I seek leave to move a motion to refer the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Amendment Bill back to the relevant select committee for further consideration.

Mr SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that process? Yes, there is.

Hon Paula Bennett: Can the Prime Minister explain, then, why she would not allow this bill to go back to select committee, when there is plenty of time for that to be done? She’s often stated about their preference to have Parliament actually exploring things well. There’s plenty of time for it to go to select committee, and they could actually explore these changes there.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I’ve actually said, I see merit in what the Opposition have put forward, which is why I’ve given an undertaking that we will look into this issue further and use further opportunities when we’re looking at other employment legislation—if it proves to have merit.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does she think that her intentions to look at this at a later date are good enough for those families who will suffer financial hardship because they won’t have the opportunity to simultaneously take paid parental leave when there may be causes where a woman is unwell or the baby is unwell and both parents need to be at home?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I think parents will appreciate that unlike the last Government, we’re extending paid parental leave to 26 weeks. I think it’s disappointing, given the vehemence that the member’s showing, that she didn’t use the opportunity when in Government to pursue this issue.

Hon Paula Bennett: So does the Prime Minister think she knows what is best for individual families, with all their uniqueness; and if not, why not simply, instead of having good intentions, do what is best and allow flexibility?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: For clarity, again, I have already said I see merit in the idea, which is why we are undertaking now that our first priority is to extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks. We will then look at the idea that’s been brought forward by the previous Government. I have to again say that if this was an idea that they felt so passionately about, the last nine years would have been a good opportunity to do it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Would she and her Cabinet and the Government be so much more wise and informed on this matter had the Opposition put in place this policy in the last nine years?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The Deputy Prime Minister is absolutely right; this is an issue that could have been pursued in the last nine years. In fact, I do need to point out we reached out to the member who put up the Supplementary Order Paper and she’s refused to collaborate with us on her very suggestion.

Hon Paula Bennett: Can I simply say, what does she suggest then to these dads and same-sex partners—what does she suggest that they do if they want to support these new mums and their babies but can’t afford unpaid leave, and would benefit from paid parental leave with flexibility?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I will say again, we are going to look into this issue because, as I’ve already said, we see merit in it—we see merit in it. Our first step, however, is to extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks, which is a milestone we should all be proud of.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does she accept that she’s actually the Prime Minister that could take action and do something—instead of just talking about intentions and whether something has merit, she could actually do something about this?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Taking action means, within our first 100 days, pursuing 26 weeks’ paid parental leave, which was an issue the previous Government not only voted against; they vetoed.

Is it too late to change the bill?

Or will the pragmatic Prime Minister add a worthwhile amendment?



Leave a comment


  1. The WWYL snub their stance over a fabulous SOP to the PPL bill is, is just a symptom of an ill-disciplined, unprepared and lazy government who sound more like a very lazy Opposition rather than a government. What is becoming more clear is that Labour/Greens/NZFirst are inept to a man and woman, not one I have seen is fit for purpose and together they form the larger part of a dysfunctional Government. We should remind ourselves that for many years, up to and including 7 weeks before an election, the Labour Party lingered in the low 20% in opposition and that there was a reason for that. Their lack of popularity wasn’t just determined by a succession of incompetent leaders – the lack of depth reached much deeper into the party culture than that.

    Kelvin Davis’ banal behaviour and his unbelievable arrogance in the House was being simultaneously mirrored by a ham-fisted Ardern on the world stage. Hard to fathom the degree to which Ardern was grandstanding. Not content with tut-tutting and virtue signalling in Sydney she continued her bullying student politicking both in Vietnam and in the Philippines.

    We need to constantly remind ourselves that it was the judgement of one man who delivers us this lot and that he did this to us simply because he felt humiliated.

    What to say?

    • Blazer

       /  18th November 2017

      Its not that bad.We survived hamfisted Murray,we survived serial liar ,ponytail puller Key,barger Brownlee and all the other arrogance that resides in National.

      • David

         /  18th November 2017

        Having to rely on “yes but look at the last lot” Blazer so early on when if they were half way competent they would go to select committee and enact it. The problem with your crowd is the reality is not as important as the spin, they wanted paid parental leave shoved through under urgency for no other reason than spin, it has now backfired on them with all commentary being negative. Quite ironic really.

        • PDB

           /  18th November 2017

          Indeed – if they now announce the change ‘as-is’ it will be a bit of an own goal rather than a winning one.

          • You are 100% right, traveller, they are like the Opposition.

            Jacinda still acts as if she’s a university student protestor-and with that long hair, she seems to be trying to look like one. I keep expecting her to wear a t-shirt with a slogan on it.

            Telling Trump that there were no parades when she got in was utterly crass and schoolgirlishly immature-why antagonise Mr Thinskin ? He never seems to forget a slight, real or imagined.. Those ‘parades’ were deeply concerned protestors who were horrified at the idea of Trump being president .

            I think that that goofy grin will wear very thin.

            • Hollyfield

               /  19th November 2017

              Maybe the lack of protests speaks more to the maturity level of her opponents, that although they are not happy with the election result they do accept democracy.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  20th November 2017

              Well, more people wanted National, so one can’t really say that it was a majority who voted for her.

              What did concern people was that the two coalition partners had such tiny numbers of votes. And, of course, that Winston Peters can have had no intention of going in with National and was just time-wasting.

              Perhaps MMP could be tweaked to prevent this sort of thing-a maximum of two parties per coalition.

  2. Fight4NZ

     /  18th November 2017

    If the opposition could be relied on to conduct themselves properly in Select Committee then no doubt Jacinda would take that option. However since they have made very clear that their childish sore-loser antics have priority over what is good for the country Jacinda is forced to get what she has in place and mop up later. Sorry parents but National’s self interest has spoiled the pitch for you. Again.

    • David

       /  18th November 2017

      National proposed an amendment, said they would support it through select committee and are voting for the legislation I think perhaps the sore looser being childish is Labour, given the slamming they have gotten I am quite enjoying this blowing up in their faces.
      Right better get on with reading the universal panning of Kelvin Davis, happy days.

    • PDB

       /  18th November 2017

      What is ‘good for the country’ is that both parents get to decide how the parental leave is utilised not what Labour dictates to those couples. The only ‘self-interest’ is Labour wanting to push through this legislation purely for political reasons when they clearly have time to make the amendment which Ardern herself said “showed merit”.

      Sorry parents but Labour’s self interest & desperation for something to show for their shambolic start to govt has spoiled the pitch for you. Again.

      • Sue Moroney was on record as saying that the increased costs could be covered by hiking the tax rate for those who took the place of the person on leave. Who on earth would be willing to work for less than everyone else so as to enable someone else to have vast amounts of paid leave at their expense ? What employer would agree to it ?

        She assumed that it wouldn’t be a case of everyone else having to do extra work to cover the absent workers share.

        This bizarre idea is never mentioned when Ms M is praised for having the extra leave idea.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  20th November 2017

          Oh, please, surely three people don’t support the idea of the temps being taxed at a much higher rate than the rest of the workers. How to make sure that nobody wants to do that job-why should temps be expected to take home less than anyone else ?

  3. duperez

     /  18th November 2017

    Quote of the week on all sorts of levels has to be that bit from Paula Bennett:

    “Does she accept that she’s actually the Prime Minister that could take action and do something—instead of just talking about intentions and whether something has merit, she could actually do something about this?”

    Jacinda Ardern was too rational in saying that Ms Bennett’s Government not only voted against pursuing 26 weeks’ paid parental leave but vetoed such moves. She must have been tempted to ask Bennett that if the idea had merit why she didn’t actually do something about it when she was in power.

    Or simply say “Zip it, Sweetie.”

    • PDB

       /  18th November 2017

      National have been gradually increasing parental leave in their time as economic conditions allowed and again promised to raise it during the election campaign. 26 weeks is simply Labour promising more for mores sake without the option of parents choosing how they use it.

  4. Few people seem to be saying that this could backfire on women who could potentially be having 6 months off every two years. A businessman I know said that they couldn’t afford to hire anyone who was likely to need parental leave. And his was a business that was doing well.

    I suppose that women who keep having the time off will still expect to be promoted at the same rate as those who don’t.

    I’d be afraid that the workplace would find that they didn’t need me back after the 6 months.

  5. patupaiarehe

     /  19th November 2017

    As much as I agree that sharing the leave between both partners is a great idea, I find it a tad ironic that Ms Bennett is ‘championing the cause’. Didn’t she tell MSD that she didn’t have a partner, many years ago… 😉


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