26 Aug 2015

ACT confident over parental leave amendments

4:43 pm on 26 August 2015

ACT Party leader David Seymour says he is confident he can negotiate changes to paid parental leave legislation relating to premature babies, twins and triplets.

Labour’s spokesperson for Women, Sue Moroney (holding number 7), and a group of mothers supporting thenew paid parental leave bill.

Labour MP Sue Moroney (holding number 7), and a group of mothers supporting her new paid parental leave bill. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The Government's proposed legislation, which is due to have its first reading tomorrow, would make some extensions to the existing paid parental leave scheme, for example for casual and seasonal workers.

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ACT leader David Seymour Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Mr Seymour would like the bill to be changed to give more leave for premature or multiple births.

He said the National Party asked him to vote against a previous member's bill to extend paid parental leave, in the name of Labour MP Sue Moroney, in return for such provisions.

"The intention was that in those special circumstances, where people have extra, unforeseen needs, they should get more leave and I believe that's the point of social insurance."

The changes are not in the legislation due to come before the House tomorrow but Mr Seymour said they could still be added as an amendment.

He said the negotiations were coming along.

"I don't believe they will take all three categories from Moroney's bill [relating to premature births, multiple births and children with special needs] but I believe they will take some of them.

"I think that the premature and the multiple births are more clear cut obviously.

"Babies with special needs can take some time to diagnose and we are talking about the first few months of life here."

He said this is an issue over which he refused to back Ms Moroney's proposal - at National's request.

"In return I've asked them to make some concessions for better policy and and I'm fairly confident they'll do that."

Second bill

Meanwhile, a second bill from Ms Moroney to extend the paid parental leave scheme to 26 weeks could have its first reading in Parliament tonight.

She said this mirrors the proposal she took to Parliament in February, which was lost on a tied 60-60 vote because the Government and Mr Seymour voted against it.

"Labour's three-year battle to extend paid parental leave to all families kicks off again tonight when my new bill comes before Parliament.

"Unfortunately, if National hadn't played politics with this issue, that extra help would have been available for all families from July this year.

"National and its support partners should take this opportunity to show they can put the needs of Kiwi families ahead of politics and support my bill."

Hazel Kehoe Rowden, aged 7 months, came to support the new paid parent bill.

Hazel Kehoe Rowden, aged seven months, at the event today to support Ms Moroney's new bill. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Grace Li, 9 months old (middle).

Nine-month-old Grace Li (middle) Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

8 week old Zoe Butson-Couper and Jess Butson support the new paid parent bill that would give them a further eight weeks together.

Zoe Butson-Couper, eight weeks, and Jess Butson Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

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