28 Nov 2017

Nats celebrate consensus on parental leave

1:40 pm on 28 November 2017

The National Party has welcomed the government's move to make paid parental leave more flexible, following the opposition party's repeated lobbying.

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National Party leader Bill English Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

National will try to introduce a bill to Parliament today allowing parents to take leave at the same time, but the government plans to block that and introduce its own legislation instead.

National leader Bill English said he was glad the government was finally adopting its policy.

"They've seen there is broad public support for what was always a good idea for helping parents and children.

"It's great that - one way or another - they've been able to find their way to accommodating it."

Labour denied it was poaching a good idea and said the bill proposed by National's Amy Adams was "fundamentally flawed".

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government wanted to work with Ms Adams to "iron those [flaws] out".

"The easiest way for us to pursue it and make sure we get it right is to incorporate it into a piece of existing legislation that will go before a select committee - and in a really timely way."

But Ms Ardern said she was more than happy to give credit to Ms Adams for the idea.

"I think the wider public will absolutely see that it was a suggestion made by the opposition and we'll acknowledge that.

"That's the way it goes in politics sometimes. I've seen occasions where not even that has happened."

Mr English said it would be quicker for the government to simply allow National's bill to be debated. He rejected suggestions it was flawed.

"We think that select committees are quite capable of sorting out those issues."

The government will this week pass legislation extending paid parental leave from 18 weeks to 22 next year, then up to 26 in 2020.

National twice blocked attempts to extend leave while it was in power, saying it was unaffordable, but then changed its tune in the lead-up to the election.

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