The first piece of Budget-related legislation has passed its first stage with the support of parties in Parliament except for NZ First.
The Support for Children in Hardship Bill provides for the centrepiece of the Budget - a $790 million package that will increase benefits for parents by $25 a week from next April, as well as extra Working for Families payments and childcare subsidies for most on low incomes.
Labour and the Green Party both supported the bill but were concerned the Green Party said it will withdraw its support in future unless National agrees to drop some of the tradeoffs for the increases such as the requirement for single parents to return to part-time work when their child turns three.
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Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei described that as the "cruellest" aspect of the Budget. "Forcing the parents of toddlers in to work is not a solution to child poverty."
Labour also voiced concern about the measure which comes just a few years after National introduced a requirement to return to work when a child turned five. In Parliament, Mr Key responded that many other New Zealanders did return to work while their children were young. "Tell that to the tens of thousands of Kiwi families who do that every day. They do that, half the time, after 14 weeks.
The bill will be now considered by a select committee and public submissions held. The changes in it are due to come into force on April 1 next year.