PM hints at extending paid parental leave

John Key. Photo Getty
John Key. Photo Getty
Prime Minister John Key this morning hinted that National is working on its own legislation to extend paid parental leave but for a shorter period than the 26 weeks Labour is pushing for.

Late last year Finance Minister Bill English indicated National was reconsidering its position on Labour MP Sue Moroney's members bill to extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks. Previously he had said the Government would use its financial veto to stymie the bill which looked like it had the numbers to pass.

This morning however, Mr Key said an extension to 26 weeks was more than National was willing to support, but he said his party may extend beyond the current 14 weeks.

"We're working on our own policies... but not to the level of largesse we saw announced yesterday by Labour. That is half a billion dollars to try and get people to vote Labour using taxpayers' own money."

Mr English said National had always said it was interested in extending paid parental leave when there was room to do so, but it would balance that up with other "quite urgent needs for the most vulnerable children" such as lifting immunisation rates, lifting educational achievement and protecting the most vulnerable children from violence.

He said National expected to continue discussions with Labour over Ms Moroney's bill when it was reported back from the select committee next month.

The bill was held back by the select committee after National asked them to consider it further.

Mr English said National asked the committee to do that, because it was "interested in finding some path forward that may be agreeable".

"Now that doesn't mean we're committed to getting agreement, it just means we'll look at the issues."

- Adam Bennett of the NZ Herald

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