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Government Bullies BIll Off Agenda

The majority of public submissions to the Select Committee support Paid Parental Leave, but Mrs Shipley's government has used First Past The Post bully boy tactics to sabotage what should have been an MMP process, Alliance spokesperson on workplace relations, Laila Harre said today.

"Every member of Parliament has a duty now to make up their minds whether they put Jenny Shipley's reputation, or the health and welfare of new babies first.

"My minority report makes it very clear that the Alliance will negotiate changes with any MP who agrees in principal with Paid Parental Leave to get this bill passed."

The Social Services Select Committee tabled its report on Alliance MP Laila Harre's Paid Parental Leave Bill today. 84 out of 118 submission were in favour of the bill. National and Act voted against the Bill. The Alliance and Labour voted in favour. Ann Batten abstained.

"Ann Baton said in the report that as far as she is concerned '..this is MMP, proportional representation in action.'

"In fact the opposite is true. The Alliance has always been open to negotiation, and debate and negotiation is what MMP is all about. That was the job of the Select Committee and it is clear from events that the minority National government never intended to support Paid Parental Leave.

"The government just doesn't want the Alliance Bill to proceed. National's own weak version of parental leave is the Parental Tax Credit which does nothing to encourage women in the workplace to take time off work or to return to work. Most working women won't even qualify for the scheme.

"The only group who will be better off after the birth of a baby than before it are those families where Dad works and Mum stays at home.

"Families where both parents are working gain nothing. They simply lose the women's wage when she takes parental leave.

"Worst off, are those families who rely solely on a mother's income. When she takes parental leave, she will need to apply for a benefit, and then will not qualify for the tax credit.

"New Zealanders deserve the same entitlements as their contemporaries in other countries. That's all the Alliance Bill attempts to do. It seems the government and their supporters don't think New Zealand working women are worth as much as workers overseas."

Laila Harre said it was now up to the whole of parliament to move on Paid Parental Leave when the Select Committee report is debated on July 21st.

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