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Labour parental leave Bill exploits Red Radio credulity

  • April 10th, 2012

Sue Moroney MP and the Labour Party must be over the moon. Her Bill to extend paid parental leave has had more publicity already than they could have dreamed.

It has no show of passing without Government support, as she would know, yet it has been reported widely as if it could proceed over the objections of the Government.  Without that spurious possibility it would have had no newsworthiness.

Standing Orders are clear. A money bill (which would commit government money) can be vetoed by the Minister of Finance.

"The House will not pass a bill, amendment or motion that the government certifies it does not concur in because, in its view, the bill, amendment or motion would have more than a minor impact on the government’s fiscal aggregates if it became law"

The Bill is, nevertheless the kind of measure that works politically, even if it is bad for the economy, and bad for the women of child bearing age who become more susceptible to the covert discrimination by which employers protect themselves from unequally shared social costs. The accumulation of such feel-good measures has transformed Western democracies over two generations from world economic powerhouses to parasites on the energy and capital forming sacrifice of poorer people.

Greece is just the most obvious case. It is a poster example of what happens when cynical politicians pander to a nation of greedy, dishonest, whining bludgers. The honest toilers pay the price along with those who've ruined them.

What a pity Labour has not put up a bill to reform something they campaigned on last election, where the embarrrassment of the financial veto would mean more politically. They could, for example, lodge bills to push out the pension age, or to impose capital gains tax. If they got a majority to support those, consider the political impact of forcing the government to exercise the veto to protect John Key from doing what he has already admitted to be the right thing for the economy.



But extending super qualifying age wouldn't be a 'money' bill in the sense you have used. What veto would be exercised against legislation that would reduce government spending?


It can progress without government support. All the way up until the third reading debate.
I also do not see how this bill – which effects government spending – would impact on the cost to employers of hiring women. The new mother is already off work, this is just a question of for how much of her unpaid maternity leave she will receive money from the taxpayer.
I'm with Lindsay on this. I fail to see how a bill to raise taxes or reduce spending would qualify for a veto.
Finally, there really shouldn't be a financial veto. If the government feels so strongly about not spending some money it should make the issue a confidence vote (it's not far short of a supply vote anyway). Allowing the government to do something on which it lacks the confidence of the House (in a specific rather than general sense) is profoundly undemocratic.


The standing order extends to measures that reduce government expenditure as well. It is based on the sound insight that if a team has responsibility to govern, but you tinker piecemeal with their budget you cannot expect accountablity from them. If the others want to start playing with appropriations, the proper constitutional thing is to show that you have the numbers to replace them and take over, at which point you will be responsible for the coherence of the whole administration.
The absence of such a rule in California, and the prevalence of citizen initiatives which favour specific interests and interest groups with liabilities or benefits, has made that state just about ungovernable, and financially stricken.


See my reply to Lindsay’s comment


I'm not sure you can use a presidential system (is there a word for a "presidential" system with the executive is a Governor?) as an analogy.
It seems odd to base the argument on accountability for the budget: if National – responsible for the budget – introduced the Paid Parental Act Repeal Bill, Parliament would be within its rights to reject it, leaving the government with the bill for PPL. Wouldn't this argument imply that the constitutionally proper thing for an opposition (and cross-bench) to do before voting down a PPL repeal would be to try to get support for a government, and that if it was unable to do so, the Parliament should support the Government's repeal efforts?
Where is the fundamental distinction? If the government should be able to override Parliament on financial matters – whether they increase or decrease the government's costs – why can't the government do the same for other matters with identical effects? Why can the government stop Parliament from introducing or repealing something like PPL, while the Parliament can stop the government from introducing or repealing something like PPL? There are answers, but government accountability for the budget doesn't fly.


Surely exercise of the veto rests on political pragmatism. The government should have  ultimate control by merit of being the government. But if the opposition bill is electorally popular, they can act accordingly. Which is how this has panned out. It wasn't electorally popular and National accurately pre-empted that. The fiscal accountability clause appears specious. But far be it from me to argue points of law.

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