Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winning the argument on paid parental leave?

Labour's Sue Moroney currently has a bill before Select Committee to extend paid parental leave to six months. The bill has a majority in the House, and will pass unless the government uses its unconstitutional financial veto. But now, it has been delayed so that National can reconsider its position:

Labour believes the Government may be preparing to back down over paid parental leave after it asked to delay a bill extending the scheme to six months.

Labour MP Sue Moroney said she had agreed to delay reporting back her member's bill so National had time to consider its position on the bill.

The move followed talks between Labour finance spokesman David Parker and Finance Minister Bill English, the Labour MP said.

If National is backing down and allowing the bill to pass, its good news. We have one of the weakest paid parental leave provisions in the developed world (tellingly, only the sexist US and Australia are worse than us), and its a policy with clear benefits to children and wider society. Investing in children early on has clear benefits later, and more than pays for itself. So rather than being a "can we afford it?" policy, its "can we afford not to". And if National has finally seen that and will allow the bill to pass, then good.

OTOH, National may not be interested in the merits of the policy so much as an opportunity to rob Labour of one of their cheapest, easiest and most popular election pledges. But if we can get them to do the right thing for venal reasons, then I'm not going to mind.