ACT changing its brand

The Herald reports:

will be extended for eligible parents with pre-term babies, the Government has confirmed.

The move comes as Labour hopes to get the needed support for legislation which would extend paid parental leave for all parents to 26 weeks.

Today’s announcement that leave would be extended for parents with pre-term babies was previously signaled by leader David Seymour, who wanted the changes after he agreed to vote against a previous members bill in the name of Labour MP Sue Moroney.

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse said how much extra leave a parent received would depend on how premature their baby was.

“Under the changes, eligible parents of pre-term babies will be entitled to a longer period of parental leave payments than the standard 18 weeks (as at 1 April 2016), if the baby is born prior to 37 weeks of gestation (considered full term),” Mr Woodhouse said in a statement.

“They will receive additional weekly payments for each week the baby was born prior to the 37 week gestation period. For example, a mother who gives birth at 28 weeks would receive nine additional weekly payments, making it a total of 27 weeks of payment.”

The announcement is a win for the Act Party, after the Government agreed earlier this year to work with its leader David Seymour.

He wanted more support to be provided in situations of multiple birth, disability and pre-term births.

This has been smart politics from Seymour. In the past you expect ACT to be arguing against all spending on paid parental leave. Their image was very flinty and uncaring (even if economically sound).

Here ACT have argued for more support, but only in circumstances where a mother has been disadvantaged by events outside her control. So they are not arguing for more leave for all mothers – as you do choose to have a baby.

But arguing for more support when you deliver prematurely is sound policy, and good politics – a rare combination.

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