Audrey Young

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

Paid parental leave talks 'a stunt'

Labour will be happy that the debate over extending paid parental leave refuses to die despite National's best efforts. Photo / Supplied
Labour will be happy that the debate over extending paid parental leave refuses to die despite National's best efforts. Photo / Supplied

Finance Minister Bill English said Labour's approach for bipartisan talks on paid parental leave looked like "a bit of a stunt" and was unlikely to be taken up.

He also said there was no difference between himself and Prime Minister John Key on the issue.

"We have made it clear we're going to veto this piece of legislation but the Prime Minister has articulated the same position as I did that ... we are getting a bit ahead of ourselves."

Labour leader David Shearer has written to Mr English seeking a meeting on Sue Moroney's private member's bill seeking to extend paid parental leave from 14 to 26 weeks. The move was estimated by Labour in election policy to cost $450 million over four years.

Mr Shearer has also begun contacting other party leaders to sound them out on the bill and a more formal meeting at another stage. New Zealand First has not yet decided whether to support it. With National, it has the numbers to kill the bill.

Mr English said he had been at a conference with Mr Shearer on Friday - in Sydney - and Mr Shearer had not raised it there so he dismissed it yesterday when talking to reporters as looking like a bit of a stunt.

"Before we start considering spending more, we need to get the [$10 billion] overdraft cleared."

Mr Key confirmed in Indonesia yesterday that Mr English consulted him before stating the Government would veto a bill extending paid parental leave at its third reading.

However he was more conciliatory, saying it could be looked at after the books were back in the black.

- NZ Herald

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