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What do we want our taxes to pay for? - Knowles


Media release 5 March 2001

What do we want our taxes to pay for? - Knowles

Employers' Federation chief executive Anne Knowles says there is widespread misunderstanding about parental leave benefits in New Zealand, with many seeming to think that New Zealand is somehow behind other countries.

"In fact, provisions for new parents in New Zealand are very comprehensive and compare extremely favourably internationally," Ms Knowles said.

"Our law provides job protection for mothers or fathers taking parental leave, guaranteeing their jobs will be kept open for them for 12 months. Employers have accepted this policy, even though it imposes significant training and replacement costs on them.

"As well, social welfare targeting (the DPB and family support) ensures families receive support if unable to take full responsibility for the costs of having and raising children."

Ms Knowles says those pushing for parental leave paid for by the taxpayer often use the justification that they are trying to implement relevant ILO conventions.

"However these conventions need to be seen in context. Many such conventions are pushed through the ILO by countries which often pay large state benefits but which also suffer from stagnating private enterprise sectors caused at least in part by the large tax burden required to pay the benefits. This is not an economic model that New Zealand should be in a hurry to follow. Moreover the conventions are often voted for by other countries which have no intention or ability to implement them."

Ms Knowles says the current situation in New Zealand:
a) protects existing jobs,
b) provides targeted help where needed, and
c) does not discriminate between those in or out of the paid work force.

"It's the Government's prerogative to introduce a policy to pay for paid parental leave out of taxes, and it will no doubt weigh up all the costs and benefits. If the Government decides a payment to those on parental leave from employment is more important than equivalent spending on health, education, defence or other priorities, then that is its right. It is a matter for the community and its Government to decide."

Contact Anne Knowles 04 4994111

ENDS


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