The Herald reports:

The Government has vetoed a Labour Party bill which would have extended from 18 weeks to 26 weeks.

Finance Minister Bill English confirmed this afternoon that he had exercised the financial veto – the first time he has used it to sink an entire piece of legislation.

Labour MP Sue Moroney’s bill had broad support in Parliament and was expected to pass into law this month.

But Mr English said it was unaffordable.

“Treasury estimates the cost of this legislation amounts to $278 million over the next four years, a significant extra – unbudgeted – cost,” he said.

“That’s on top of the $251 million a year (net of tax) taxpayers are expected to spend by 2020 under the existing paid parental leave framework.” …

United Future leader Peter Dunne, who wants an eventual increase in paid leave to 52 weeks, said there was a “delicious irony” in the Government’s veto.

“Yesterday Government was saying that putting children at the centre of policy was priority. Today they ban a bill on paid parental leave.”

Why stop at 52 weeks? Why not 156 weeks?

Dunne’s proposal would cost $391 million a year more. That’s around 30% of the total budget every year for new spending.

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