The past week has seen a remarkable event in New Zealand politics. The draw of a private member’s Bill on Paid Parental Leave (PPL) saw an unprecedented number of supportive editorials, followed by an increasing number of negative comments, followed by even more positive comments — and the implied veto from Finance Minister Bill English.
All before it even had its first reading!
It tells me much about the current state of politics. It tells me that there is a ground swell of support for the principles of Paid Parental Leave, its value to families and to the economy with a corresponding re-action of ‘fear’ from the right wing.
Why is Bill English so afraid?
Why is Bill English so afraid of this social initiative which has support from academia, editorials, the chief scientists appointed by John Key, and swathes of evidence as to it value in the long term.
Will it threaten his tax cuts to the better off? Threaten the building of roads, be they necessary or unnecessary? Threaten the tax advantages to the farming community in the deferral of the emissions trading scheme? Threaten the provision of tax payer funds to private schools?
Will it say to the national Government that we the nation believes that PPL is as important, if not more, that all these other tax concessions? That the future of our kids is worth more than this?
Why should that be so scary for our government that it acts so hastily and so undemocratically to kill the proposal before it even starts? How can New Zealand have the promised ‘brighter future’ without supporting our young people and their children?
Why too, has the recently politically appointed (by Paula Bennett) chair of the Families Commission gone back on previous statements as the value of paid parental leave and soundly rejected the recent proposal? Political interference?
The Families Commission was established to support families — and this proposal to extend paid parental leave does just that. To not support it means, in my mind anyway, that the commission is not doing its job and therefore has no value. Away with it I say!
The principles, costs and benefits to families, to the nation and why we should support it should be thrashed out in a select committee.
To damn it before due diligence has been done is irresponsible and smacks of –‘its not my idea so I won’t support it’ – shame on Bill English and all the other naysayers who speak from political ideology and not from facts and evidence. That evidence will come out in the select committee process – so let that process begin – we will all be the wiser for it.
Let’s see if the cost of PPL is equal to or more or less than the current child care subsidy.
Why should we as a nation support the principle of PPL? Because it is more than just a good social initiative.
Detractors need reminding of benefits
Because we ‘baby boomers’ are heading into old age. But couples who have had their children and claim: ‘We did it ourselves so we should not pay (for them);’ and those young people who say: ‘Don’t have children if you can afford it,’ forget this:
These young working mothers will pay tax, these young babies will eventually pay tax — and their contribution will support the rest of us into our old age with our increasing demands on the public purse in the form of superannuation and health care.
Let us then view the proposal as a social contract between generations – we support them now and they will support us when we need it.
As Saint Francis Xavier said ‘Give me a child till the age of seven and I will give you the man.’ It’s as simple as that.