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Paid Parental Leave Bill Voted Down

A bill proposing extending paid parental leave to 26 weeks fell at the second reading tonight.

Those in favour of the bill said during the debate the bill would fail because one of its supporters had left Parliament to attend the birth of a child, however in the end the bill fell with the Maori Party’s three votes being cast against it.

After months of delays Parliament rushed its way through to the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months' Paid Leave) Amendment Bill this evening.

National had in previous days delayed debate because its usual allies United Future and Maori Party backed the bill meaning they could not vote it down.

Today, National allowed business to move so quickly Labour appeared to be taken surprise with the bill’s sponsor Sue Moroney not in the House to move the second reading debate motion with Carol Beaumont stepping into the breach.

During the debate Labour’s Trevor Mallard sought leave for the Maori Party vote to be counted as three because Te Ururoa Flavell has been called away to the birth of his first grandchild and the Maori Party were unable get another MP back in time for the vote. This was refused.

During the debate Mallard said he was ashamed of the House today as in the past parties had accommodated MPs being called away on compassionate grounds. Parliament had the flexibility to act positively but National had not shown any compassion in this incidence.

A number of Labour MPs pointed to the irony of National being able to vote down a parental leave bill, because an MP was away attending the birth of a child.

National MPs still opposed the bill as they said it was too expensive. National introduced a lesser extension of paid parental leave as part of Budget legislation. The indications were Finance Minister Bill English would have used his right of veto over the bill because of its fiscal impact if it advanced to its third reading.

However in the end National did not need to wait to use its veto or grant leave for Flavell’s vote to be counted with three Maori Party votes being cast in the negative.

The vote on the second reading was 63 to 58 with National, Maori Party, and ACT opposed to the bill.

There was some confusion with the vote as Labour claimed the Maori Party had pledged support for the bill, but National whips remained firm they had the three votes.

Earlier the second reading of the Summary Offences (Possession of Hand-held Lasers) Amendment Bill in the name of Cam Calder was completed on a voice vote.

The first reading of the Christchurch City Council (Rates Validation) Bill also completed its first reading 119 to 1 with Mana opposed and was sent to the Local Government and Environment Committee for consideration.

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