Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Questions over parental leave extension costs

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

Major discrepancies in the cost of extending paid parental leave from 14 weeks to six months have emerged at the select committee examining the bill.

The MP sponsoring it, Labour MP Sue Moroney, today told the government administration select committee it had a duty to get to the bottom of the discrepancies.

Finance Minister Bill English gave notice on April 11 that he would exercise a financial veto to prevent the bill being passed on the basis that it would cost $500 million over three to four years.

Sue Moroney said the Department of Labour at the time estimated the cost at $285 million.

Now the committee had been given estimates by officials that it would cost $166 million over three years.

She believed Mr English had been premature in announcing he would apply the veto.

The committee resolved to write to Mr English to ask how he calculated the costs.

Sue Moroney told the committee that the benefits of the extension would apply to the 26,000 families that accessed paid parental leave every year.

It would also benefit society as a whole because New Zealand "would gain a more secure, productive, resilient society because families are able to focus on those early months.'

- NZ Herald

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