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Paid parental leave bill closer to veto

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 25/05/2016

Labour's bill to increase paid parental leave to 26 weeks has passed another stage in parliament - which brings it closer to being vetoed by the government.

Sue Moroney's member's bill passed its second reading by 61 votes to 60 on Wednesday, with the help of United Future's Peter Dunne who is usually a government ally.

When the bill passed its first reading in September last year, Finance Minister Bill English confirmed he would use the government's financial veto to kill it when it reaches its final stage, a third reading.

He can use the veto because increasing paid parental leave to 26 weeks would cost money that hasn't been budgeted for.

The government has increased paid parental leave from 14 weeks to 18 weeks, and hasn't ruled out increasing it again.

Ms Moroney has previously said she'll mobilise public support in the hope that "people power" will change the government's mind.

After Wednesday's vote Mr Dunne said he was supporting the bill because his party's policy was to phase in a year of paid parental leave over a five year period.

"It's important that parents have the opportunity and choice to spend time with their new-borns without risking their careers," he said.

"Six months is the minimum amount of time we should be giving parents."

The bill now has to pass its committee stage before it comes up for a third reading.

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