15 Nov 2017

'It's a policy that we should be supporting'

7:53 pm on 15 November 2017

The former Labour MP who spearheaded the extension of paid parental leave supports National's proposal to let both parents take those weeks off together.

Labopur MP, Sue Moroney.

Former Labour MP Sue Moroney. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Sue Moroney joined a small group of parents and their children for lunch at Parliament this afternoon to celebrate the legislation's impending success.

The bill will extend leave from 18 weeks to 22 next year, then up to 26 in 2020. It's expected to pass its third and final reading later this month.

The National Party put up an amendment last night, suggesting both parents be able to take leave at the same time, but Labour voted it down.

Ms Moroney, who retired at the election, told reporters she personally supported the idea.

"It's a policy that we should be supporting. Families are in the best position to make a judgement call on how they use that leave."

However she said she understood the government's reluctance to adopt National's proposal.

"That particular provision hasn't been through a select committee and I understand their reasoning for wanting to get some more advice on it."

Ms Moroney told the lunch she'd actually prefer the government to introduce "two weeks paid leave specifically for partners to use".

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway responded, saying he "absolutely" wanted to pick up the baton.

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway with a baby.

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway with a baby. Photo: RNZ / Craig McCulloch

"The great news is, now - after all the battles that we've had over the years - we now seem to have a consensus around the Parliament that paid parental leave is a good thing."

He said he had already extended an invitation to National to discuss what the next steps might be.

The National Party twice blocked attempts to extend paid parental leave while in power, but then changed its tune in the lead-up to the election.

Ms Moroney said she was "pleased" National had come full circle in its position.

"They've had to accept they were wrong ... but the truth is that there's a lot of babies who've missed out ... because of the stymieing from the then-National government."

Mother Lisa Woods, who attended the function with her nine-month-old son Zach, said the extra hours would make "all the difference".

"Raising children is one of the hardest things to do ... when I had Zach, it really brought home to me how important it was.

"In those early months, the development is just profound and it keeps going."

Ms Woods said her partner took two weeks off after the birth and ideally would have had access to dedicated paid leave as well.

"It's really important that the dads have that connection and build that bond, as well as the mums."

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