26 Feb 2015

Recriminations over parental leave bill

6:50 am on 26 February 2015

For three years, Labour MP Sue Moroney tried to get broad political support for legislation that would have given parents with disabled or premature babies or with multiple births 26 weeks leave, but last night her efforts failed.

The group Action to Improve Maternity wants the Health Minister to implement each of the Coroner's recommendations.

The group Action to Improve Maternity wants the Health Minister to implement each of the Coroner's recommendations. Photo: 123RF

Allegations of political betrayal and deception were levelled in Parliament as the government killed off the Parental Leave and Employment Amendment Bill.

Both National and ACT opposed the bill at its third and final reading.

Ms Moroney was clearly bitter.

Sue Moroney

Sue Moroney Photo: Supplied

"I trusted the Government when they promised me that if they extended paid parental leave, it would be done in a bill in my name.

"That is the committment they gave me; they lied,"

New Zealand First's Tracy Martin said the Government was determined not to let Ms Moroney have her name on the bill and slammed that as cynical politics.

"Why would any member of this house go and take the word of any Minister or any member of the Government after what just happened there?

"And so that New Zealand is just what happened to this bill."

Michael Woodhouse

Michael Woodhouse Photo: RNZ / Jane Patterson

Ms Moroney's colleague, Labour's Jacinda Ardern said the MP Moroney had compromised to try to get the bill passed and make gains for at least some families.

Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse didn't buy it. "Lions in opposition, lions with other people's money when they don't have the fiscal costs of the decisions they want this Parliament to make, but lambs in government."

However it appears Ms Moroney's efforts may not have been in vain.

Before the bill's third reading yesterday, Mr Woodhouse indicated the Government would take a look at giving extra paid leave for parents in exceptional circumstances later this year, when it extends paid parental leave to 18 weeks.

And Finance Minister, Bill English, said he would consider a proposal to increase support to parents in special cirumstances.

"There's always flexibility for well thought out proposals but we've only got a certain amount of money and it's under a lot of pressure this year - they'll need to be pretty good proposals."

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