25 Feb 2015

Paid parental bill killed in parliament

10:12 pm on 25 February 2015

A member's bill that would have given the parents of premature and disabled babies, and those of multiple births more time off work was voted down in Parliament tonight.

Sue Moroney

Labour spokesperson for Education and Early Childhood Education Sue Moroney. Photo: Supplied

The Parental Leave and Employment Amendment Bill in the name of Labour MP Sue Moroney, did not pass its third and final reading, with both the National and ACT Parties opposing the bill.

One provision in the bill was 26 weeks leave for parents in special circumstances.

Earlier today ACT's David Seymour said he'd had discussions with the Government about giving parents in special circumstances more paid leave.

"It fits the bill of what social insurance should do, it is about giving people help for unforeseen circumstances such as premature, disabled or multiple births and I'll be encouraging Michael Woodhouse to take this seriously in lieu of supporting Sue Moroney's bill."

Mr Seymour said he recognised he would have had the ability to support a law change today, that now rests in the hands of the Government.

"That's why I'll be pushing very hard for Michael Woodhouse to take these propositions seriously but Sue Moroney came to me yesterday, we had a meeting this morning.

"I went back to the Nats and decided that I could not be making public policy with six hours notice, however I do on the face of it think her ideas are meritorious."

Last year the Government announced it would increase paid parental leave, phasing it in up to 18 weeks from next year and extend eligibility.

Legislation still has to passed to bring the full policy into effect.

Special circumstances

The Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse said he would consider the special circumstances provision as that legislation is prepared.

"Well I think the broader question is do parents of multiple births or premature births have the necessary support that they need, whether that's from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Development, and so on.

"That's something I'm quite happy to go away and have a look at as part of the discussion with Mr Seymour."

He said he was no stranger to the situations raised by Ms Moroney.

"I'm the brother of identical triplets I should know better than any how hard it can be for parents of multiple births.

"The supports that are available - in my day it was through the Karitane Nursing Service, I'm not sure what they call it now - but certainly it's not just about the money or paid parental leave."

Sue Moroney said while it was disappointing her bill would be voted down, some good had come of it.

"It's a great honour from the role of opposition to be able to force the Government into a position of having to consider something that they've clearly been against from day one.

"The political games that this government has done in order to prevent families having extended paid parental leave have been quite extraordinary and today is just another chapter in a very long running saga."

Michael Woodhouse said he hoped the Cabinet would sign off the final proposals for the next stage of the paid parental leave scheme in the next few weeks, so he could have legislation before Parliament in May or June.