Hard hearted Bill vetos parental leave bill vetoed

Bill English has followed through with threats to veto the Paid Parental Leave Bill that would have increased paid parental leave from the current 18 weeks to 26 weeks.

The bill was supported by a majority in Parliament, the Bill was not.

I’m disappointed by this. The Paid Parental Leave Bill was introduced to Parliament via the Members’ ballot and passed through all it’s stages under our democratic process, but was discarded by English under his power of ‘certificate of financial veto’.

There would have been a cost with a fiscal impact but not a significant one in the whole scheme of things.

There is overwhelming evidence that the first months and years of a child’s life are of fundamental importance to their well being, so if any stage of their lives deserves Government support it is the first six months.

It is also important that mothers in particular (and fathers as well) are supported during the most difficult, the most time consuming and the most important stage of parenthood.

Yes there would have been an added cost but the benefits are likely to have paid this back.

This makes English look petty, penny pinching and mean. Ditto the National Party.

Labour, the Greens, the Maori Party, NZ First and UnitedFuture all supported the bill.

Labour MP Sue Moroney introduced and strongly promoted the bill:

…said she was “frustrated and disappointed” by the veto.

“It’s a difficult thing to command parliamentary majority from opposition…and it’s the right thing to do.

Peter Dunne…

… said the veto was “unfortunate”, given the Government’s previous claims about its focus on children.

“I think it’s a delicious irony in that yesterday [the] Government was saying that putting children at the centre of policy was a priority – today they ban a bill on paid parental leave.”

Labour leader Andrew Little…

…said it was “deeply disappointing”.

Parliament clearly supports it … the Government does have the right of veto and in the end they’ll be accountable to New Zealander’s for that”.

Spokeswoman for the coalition 26 for Babies…

…said the “unaffordability” argument didn’t stack up.

“This decision is about this Governments priorities,” Rebecca Matthews-Heron said.

It is hard work to get a sensible Opposition bill with majority support for it. It is hard work being a parent, particularly in the first 6 months of a child’s life.

It was easy for English to veto this bill, but it was hard nosed, hard hearted and contrary to Government claims about putting a priority on early childhood.

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.

Veto Monday-ising Bill English?

There is confusion about whether Bill English said he would veto the Monday-ising bill or not.

In the NZ Herald it says he would:

Government opposes ‘Monday-ising’ holidays bill

The Holidays Amendment bill put forward by Labour Party MP David Clark will be debated in Parliament in its first reading.

One cabinet minister said the idea to “mondayise” public holidays was “appalling”.

Justice Minister Judith Collins said Anzac day was a day of commemoration and remembering the dead.

Prime Minister John Key said he did not know what the party’s position was.

Other Ministers said they would not comment until caucus had made a decision on the issue.

 Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said the Government would veto the legislation.

But Stuff suggests not:

Government to oppose Mondayising holidays

The Government is expected to oppose Mondayising Waitangi and Anzac Day holidays with one Cabinet minister saying it was an appalling suggestion.

Prime Minister John Key said he did not know what the party’s position was.

Ministers Hekia Parata, Steven Joyce and Bill English declined to comment saying caucus would make a decision on the issue.

However, Justice Minister Judith Collins said she did not support Mondayising Anzac and Waitangi Days.

So the Herald says yes, but either they have it wrong or they heard different to Stuff.

Pre-Parliament veto of Parental Leave bill?

Bill English has announced that National will veto the Paid Parental Leave bill.

English says govt will veto paid parental leave bill.
He says it will not be politically damaging as the public are “pragmatic.”

(@avancenz)

It seems to be premature announcing a veto of a bill before it has even been put to parliament. English can’t know what the cost – or timing – of the bill would be until it’s been through at least to the select committe stage.

It will be interesting to see how “pragmatic” the public are on this.

More detail:

English confirms parental leave veto

Finance Minister Bill English confirmed this afternoon that National will veto a bill to extend paid parental leave from 14 weeks to six months.

He said the Government would have to borrow more money to fund it just at a time when it was trying to reduce its deficit.

But he’s wrong when he says:

The fact is doubling it will cost another $150 million a year. You’d have to borrow half a billion over the next three or four years. We’re simply not willing to do that.

If implemented as proposed it would be phased in, so wouldn’t cost anywhere near that over that timeframe.