Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Maori Party changes vote on paid parental leave bill

Labour MP Sue Moroney. Photo / NZ Herald
Labour MP Sue Moroney. Photo / NZ Herald

The Maori Party has changed its vote on Labour MP Sue Moroney's Paid Parental Leave Bill in Parliament ensuring it will go through to its final stages although the Government has reiterated that it will veto it.

The Maori Party was allowed to change their vote in Parliament today after National's junior whip cast their three votes against the bill, rather than in favour.

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell has confirmed it was because of a mistake by the Maori Party, which accidentally ticked the wrong box on the proxy form authorising National to cast the votes for them.

Mr Flavell had been called home because his daughter was believed to be giving birth -- although that turned out to be a false alarm. He returned to Parliament today to resolve the matter and gained approval from all parties to allow the vote to be altered.

Despite the Maori Party's admission, in Parliament Labour MP Grant Robertson accused National ministers of "bullying" the Maori Party into not changing their vote on Wednesday night soon after the bill was voted on.

The party's co-leader Pita Sharples had gone down to the Debating Chamber after the blunder was realised to try to sort it out with National.

The bill would increase paid parental leave from 14 weeks to 26 weeks over the next few years -- a greater increase than National's Budget announcement to increase the leave to 16 weeks from April 2015 and 18 weeks in 2016.

The 26 for Babies parental leave lobby group convenor Rebecca Matthews welcomed the decision to allow the bill to proceed, but said National should reconsider using its "undemocratic financial veto."

"National came up with a plan in the budget, to take us to eighteen weeks over the next two years. But the public wants more, and this bill provides them with an opportunity to do more for our youngest citizens."

- NZ Herald

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