Labour leader David Shearer is seeking a meeting with Finance Minister Bill English over a bill extending paid parental leave from 14 weeks to 26 weeks.
Mr English yesterday continued to defend his decision to veto the bill at its third reading, saying the priority was getting back into surplus in the 2014-15 year and the measure would have to be funded by borrowing.
He acknowledged the bill had benefits but denied the action taken by the Government had prevented discussion about the bill.
"The fact is there will be a conversation," he said on TVNZ's Q and A. "No one's prevented from discussing this and we welcome that conversation."
That prompted Mr Shearer to write to Mr English yesterday saying he wanted to take up a discussion with him. "It's important that we move beyond partisan bickering over this important issue and seek ways to advance assistance for families in these tough economic times."
He said it would be useful to go further into the costing and to "have the conversation you suggest around issues of timing and the extent of an expanded scheme".
Mr English pointed to the Government's record on keeping entitlements in difficult times and increasing them. He cited a 5 per cent increase in Working for Families payments on April 1 that will cost an extra $100 million a year.
He also pointed to the Government's record on spending in early childhood education which has risen from $860 million a year in Labour's last year in office to $1.3 billion this year with spending forecast to rise to $1.5 billion by 2015.
"We're spending considerable money on it. But every time we make those decisions, we have to find the money somewhere else."
Labour wanted to spend the money but not take responsibility for where it came from.
Asked if there would be room for a rethink, Mr English said: "If the economy picks up and we get back to surplus sooner, then of course there's room for discussion about all those things that people want us to have more of - but fundamentally we need a growing economy with less debt."By Audrey Young Email Audrey