Media Release 17 Sep 2015
Family First NZ is calling on the government to value parenting and the important role of mothers and fathers during the early years of our children and not threaten a veto on the paid parental leave bill.
“Successive governments have undervalued mothers and the vital role of parents as they bond with their very young children. The political and policy focus has been on the needs of the economy, rather than on the welfare of children and the vital role of parents,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“In reality, this policy would represent about 0.2% of the total government spending, yet research shows that the role of mothers and the early bonding between mums and babies is vital for healthy child development.”
“Ironically, the spending on early childhood education has almost tripled in the past ten years – yet there was no suggestion of a veto by the government then,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“The role of parents during the crucial early years of a child should be acknowledged. Families should not be pressured to return to work simply because of financial concerns and the parental leave scheme and other family tax breaks such as income-splitting and the removal of marriage penalty taxes should support and strengthen families with young children.”
A 2008 report by UNICEF rated New Zealand 23rd out of 25 countries for effective paid parental leave. Kiwi parents get 16 weeks paid parental leave (18 weeks next year) while the average in the rest of the developed world is approaching one year.
“Studies in NZ show that the average time at which mothers return to work is when their baby is six months old. ‘Financial pressure’ was cited as a key reason for returning to work earlier than desired.”
Family First is also calling for the Bill to be amended to allow up to 2 weeks – rising to 4 weeks – paid parental leave for fathers. Fathers get two weeks paid parental in Britain, and Australia has just established Dad and Partner Pay (DAPP). The period immediately following the birth of a child is demanding and difficult for mums – especially with sleep deprivation, recovering from childbirth, and coping with the existing demands of siblings. It is completely appropriately, and in fact desirable, that the father is involved in this crucial period of adjustment and to support the mother. This will promote hands-on parenting by fathers, which is a good thing.