Paid Parental Leave – Teddy Bears Picnic

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A Teddy Bears Picnic will be held today to tell the Government not to use its power of financial veto on Sue Moroney’s Bill to extend paid parental leave.

Picnicking parents will be signing postcards to Prime Minister John Key asking him not to veto extending paid parental leave to 26 weeks.

“The only argument that has been advanced against this Bill is cost, just as it was when Paid Parental Leave was first introduced,” says Leonie Morris, Coordinator for Auckland 26 for Babies. “But the extension will cost the same as the margin of error in government budget forecasting.”

“This Government is willing to spend $36 million on the America’s Cup and $220 million on the Rugby World Cup, but not $166 million (over 3 years) to provide a sound start for most of the country’s babies,” she says.

A majority of MPs support the extension, and submissions on the bill showed that extending paid parental leave is in the best interest of babies, parents and the workforce

“Vetoing the Bill for financial reasons would be anti-democratic and short-sighted. It would demonstrate that to this Government, caring for babies just doesn’t matter. The Government has more money than it forecast – we can do this.”

The picnic:
MC – Professor Judy McGregor, Head of School of Social Sciences and Public Policy, AUT.  Speakers:
Sue Moroney – Labour’s Spokesperson for Women’s Affairs and the MP promoting the Bill extend PPL to 6 months
Jan Logie – Green Spokesperson for Women’s Affairs.
Marama Davidson – Te Wharepora Hou, a collective of wāhine Māori who are pro-active for the wellbeing of whānau, hapū, iwi and our planet.
Carmel Sepuloni – Mother/ CEO of a National Pacific Health Provider/ Board Member for Thrive Teen Parent Support Trust
Rosie Judd – a Coordinator of the University of Auckland, Law students, Equal Justice Project
Dr Kathy Smits – Senior lecturer and Head of Department, Department of Political Studies, University of Auckland
Jared Abbott – Organiser, First Union

Jared Abbott’s speech:

Firstly I’d like to thank the organiser today, and the 26 for babies campaign putting on this great event in support of such an excellent piece of legislation.

As Judy mentioned, I am speaking on behalf of First Union and our 27,000 members, many of which are in constant struggle with low wage employment.

And, I’m speaking as a recent, and proud, father.

Organising in the trade union movement, we see a lot of hard working families battle with the costs involved in providing for the their families.

Often one parent will work a fixed night shift, and the other a fixed day just to counter the costs of day care and ensure their young and vulnerable children are in trusted hands.

We see situations where one parent is working the equivalent of two full time jobs just so their partners can take care of their young children. This can turn an otherwise good worker into a health and safety hazard. 12 weeks annual leave might be the difference between that worker having almost any quality time with their new born.

We see mother-to-bes who work jobs that require heavy lifting given no choice but to take as much as 6 months unpaid leave before birth due to the fact that their company’s do not provide them light duties.

An additional 12 weeks paid parental leave would help these women incredibly.

We see mothers returning to work after just 3 months who find daycare options close to their work so they can spend their breaks breastfeeding their new born child –

Do we really need to make this basic need of the child such a challenge!

The addition of 12 weeks could provide mothers the time to really bond with their child.

Instead precious weeks are spent scrambling for care options for their return into the workforce.

I know for myself, the quality of the time and what we could provide for our child dropped dramatically when paid parental leave concluded.

And, as you are aware, paid parental leave can be shared between either parent. An extra 12 weeks gives families the option for father’s to have more time with their new born.

This bill isn’t about a free hand out. This is about a critical time in a child’s development. Supporting parents through this financially difficult time is an investment into our future.

If this bill is passed we could be reaping the rewards for generations to come.

We need to  take action so that the parents of our countries new born children have the resources to do the best job they can.

ENDS

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