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Stop Wringing Your Hands, Vote For Parental Leave

"Im fed up with the hand-wringing from people who say they support Paid Parental Leave, people who know New Zealanders want it, know the government hasn't delivered it, know that we're open to discussion on our Bill, but won't use their negotiating skills to come up with a workable compromise we can all agree on, Alliance spokesperson on workplace relations said today.

"In particular my call goes out to Mauri Pacific MP Ann Baton, whose vote this Wednesday on the Select Committee will be crucial. She could make all the difference."

Parliament's Social Services Select Committee will make its decision this Wednesday on the Alliance Bill for 12 weeks Paid Parental Leave. The Bill will be debated in Parliament next week.

Under the Alliance Bill 12 weeks paid leave would be funded from a small levy on all employers - on average $1.50 per week per employee.

"The polls have emphatically endorsed my Bill from the beginning. There's no doubt in anybody's mind that the majority of New Zealanders want 12 weeks paid leave, and they don't want another tax to fund it. MPs of all parties should take heed from these polls, and vote accordingly. New Zealand will be watching."

In a recent NBR poll 60% said they supported Paid Parental Leave. 53% wanted twelve weeks, and 40% wanted it funded through a levy on employers, compared to 36% who want it funded from a tax.

"We've succeeded in nudging the government towards paid leave - after all it's election year and they couldn't avoid such a popular issue. But National's recent Parental Tax Credit was a total fizz.

"Parental Tax Credit isn't paid leave. It does nothing to encourage women in the workplace to take time off work or return to work. Most working women won't qualify for the scheme.

"We are way behind the starting mark on this issue. More than 112 other countries have proper paid parental leave. Even countries like Slovania and Azerbaijan have the minimum recommended twelve weeks.

"These countries don't offer paid leave schemes because it makes them feel good. They do it because all the evidence shows, paid parental leave increases women's participation in the workplace, offers savings to employers, and gives a new baby the best possible start in life.

"We've squeezed a tiny concession out of the government so far, but it's nowhere near enough. New Zealanders deserve the same entitlements as their contemporaries in other countries. That's what the Alliance Bill delivers, said Laila Harre.

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