National’s status as a minority Government was underscored tonight when political parties ganged up to send two bills it opposed to select committee for consideration.
Both the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months Paid Leave) Amendment Bill and the Holidays (Full Recognition of Waitangi Day and ANZAC Day) Amendment Bill made progress by 61 votes to 60 when United Future and the Maori Party backed the bills put forward by Labour MPs
The paid parental bill’s sponsor’s Sue Moroney said it would extend the current parental leave provisions of 14 weeks to 26 weeks.
The Government has already indicated it will use its financial veto because the bill would have a material effect on the budget. The veto power has been in place since MMP was introduced and minority Governments became a reality.
Moroney argued that it was a matter of priorities and Labour believed families should be put before other Government policies, as there was real evidence that there was the longer a mother was able to stay with their new born babies the better it was for all.
She said the Government had grossly exaggerated the cost of the extension.
National’s Women’s Affairs Minister Jo Goodhew said National supported parental leave and was spending considerable money on it at present. An extension of the scheme was not affordable in the current economic climate.
“Just because something is a good idea does not mean the money is magicked up out of thin air.’’
She said the policy would cost $450 million over four years and argued that Labour was making numerous spending promises that could not be afforded.
Debate became quite heated at time with Labour MPs claiming National MP Maggie Barry criticised Jacinda Adern for not having children.
In the end the bill was sent to the Government Administration Committee by 61 to 60 with National and ACT opposing.
Earlier the Holidays (Transfer of Public Holidays) Amendment Bill was sent to select committee for consideration despite the opposition of National and ACT.
Labour MP David Clark’s sponsored bill would mean that when Waitangi Day and Anzac Day fell on a weekend there would be a holiday on the Monday.
Three weeks ago Clark explained his reasoning for the bill which would only have an impact two years in seven and called National the “party of grinches’’.
Today the only National MP speaker Colin King said his party was voting against the bill because it would put costs on employers especially in the primary industries and create complexity.
Labour MP Grant Robertson, who was the original sponsor of the bill, said King’s speech was remarkable and the world did not end when other holidays fell on a weekend resulting in a day off on the Monday.
The bill was sent to the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee by 61 to 60 with National and ACT opposed.
After the Monday holiday bill MPs completed the first reading of the Joint Family Homes Repeal Bill, which repeals the Joint Family Homes Act 1964 which has been overtaken by later legislation.
The bill was referred to the Justice and Electoral Committee for consideration on a voice vote.
The Illegal Contracts (Unlawful Limitation on Regulators’ Powers) Amendment Bill was defeated at its first reading.
The bill’s sponsor Lianne Dalziel said it had been written at the time of the ANZ/ING dispute which had since been resolved by an agreement.
In that case funds were frozen by one party and those owed money had to agree to a pay out on strict terms under time pressure ruling out the chance of getting a settlement which would have offered them better returns.
Dalziel said the problem could still arise if this bill did not pass.
The aim of this Bill is to “amend the Illegal Contracts Act 1970, to prohibit attempts to limit the power of any regulator to award any remedy or distribute the proceeds of any settlement or court order to any individual.
National MPs said they would vote against the bill because it was no longer necessary as market and legislative reform had overtaken its need.
Dalziel said National were wrong and unless the law was changed the debacle of the ING/ANZ could be repeated.
The bill was defeated by 61 to 60 with National, ACT and United Future opposed
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