Veto On Parental Leave Fails To Value Parents

Media Release 7 June 2016
Family First NZ says that the government veto on paid parental leave is disrespectful to parents and the young families, and is also flawed because it fails to recognise the benefit of investing in hands-on parenting especially for middle- and low-income families.

“Paid parental leave values mothers and parenting in general. Early childhood education receives $1.6b taxpayer funding with no suggestion of a government veto. In fact, the National Government announced extra spending on Childcare by $400m over 4 years in the Budget, and yet our investment in hands-on parenting in those early crucial formative years has nowhere near the same investment. It’s time that changed so that parents can make a real choice,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“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. 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.”

“Research is also showing us that it is important that fathers be actively involved with their children and are not an optional extra. Fathers are fundamental to children’s healthy development as their involvement can improve the health, emotional well-being and educational achievement of their children. That’s why we made the call for a small amount of paid father leave also.”

According to OECD Statistics compiled by Parliamentary Library, the current paid parental leave of 18 weeks puts New Zealand in 26th equal place out of the world’s 34 developed countries in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) rankings.

NZ’s Brainwave Trust which was formed as a response to new scientific evidence on the impact that experiences in the first 3 years have on the brain development of a child, says on its website, “The early attachment between parents and their baby creates a foundation for that child’s future relationships with others. Smiling, singing, touching and cuddling as part of attuned, responsive care is necessary to develop this part of the brain. Close, loving physical touch is crucially important. These things allow the child to develop the brain connections needed to feel empathy and care for others – an important prerequisite for healthy functioning as an adult.”

“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,” says Mr McCoskrie.

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