Katie Holland is the Rotorua Daily Post deputy editor

Editorial: Veto of bill a huge setback

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Bill English.
Bill English.

A long-running battle to increase paid parental leave looks set for another twist this week - one that will come as a massive blow to those who have been campaigning for the change.

It's been reported the Government will use rare veto powers to prevent paid parental leave from being extended by eight weeks to 26 weeks.

That's despite Labour MP Sue Moroney's private member's bill having the numbers it needs from the Greens, New Zealand First, the Maori Party and United Future.

The fact a majority of our MPs are willing to vote (on behalf of New Zealand citizens) in favour of the bill will count for nothing if Bill English, as he is expected to do, stops it progressing to its third reading.

His reason? The country can't afford it.

It would be the first time Mr English has used the financial veto provision.

Ms Moroney has estimated extending paid leave to 26 weeks would cost an extra $107 million a year, but would also save $28 million a year in childcare subsidies, reduced unemployment benefits, reduced health costs and higher taxes.

It comes down to priorities.

If this was an issue considered important by our Government, the money surely could be found, even if it meant sacrificing spending on other projects.

Improved health, reduced unemployment, happy and healthy children - surely priorities for our country?

I know the Government doesn't have a money tree out the back of the Beehive, but it still found $26 million for a flag referendum that effectively was money down the toilet. It's also talked about potential tax cuts in the future.

Well, I for one would be happy to forego the tax cuts, if that's what it would take, to enable this bill to become reality.

While we're at it, keep my tax - hey, increase it a little if you have to - and use it to take in more refugees.

Now, not in 2018.

Because sometimes the human cost of not taking action is more important than the financial cost of doing so.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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