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Government continuing with parental leave veto

Wednesday 17 Oct 2012 6:34 p.m.

By Tova O’Brien

The Government is refusing to drop plans to kill a bill extending paid parental leave, despite claims its costs have been grossly exaggerated.

Labour says new official figures show it's affordable and the cost will keep going down.

Every parent 3 News spoke to today unanimously supports doubling paid parental leave from three to six months.

“It's better to be at home, that's our commitment to be at home and it would be great to be supported in that decision,” parent Kerry Lloyd says. “I don't see why women and their children should have to struggle.”

“When you think of some of the stupid things the Government’s spending its money on - divert it there and well spent,” another parent, Gareth Ruck, says.

But the Government isn't interested in diverting money there. It's a Labour Party bill and Finance Minister Bill English has committed to blocking it using a rarely-used financial veto.

But United Future MP Peter Dunne is not happy about it.

“To announce the veto prior to the bill actually proceeding through Parliament is I think premature and wrong.”

And it's hard to know the actual cost of Sue Moroney's bill. Mr English says it'll cost $400 million to $500 million over three to four years. The Department of Labour estimated $285 million over three years.

Now Ms Moroney says official Government figures put it as low as $166 million. She believes it will go lower still, but Mr English won't budge.

“All the advice I've had is that it costs around $150 million a year,” he says.

Ms Moroney says it looks like he may have made up the figures.

“I can only imagine he made a decision to inflate the official figures he was given.”

However no matter how much support the bill gets or what the ultimate figure is, when it finally comes out in the wash, Mr English will still use his power of veto.

Paid parental leave will not be extended by Labour under this Government.

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