- Date published:
11:30 am, October 18th, 2012 - 28 comments
Categories: babies, benefits, child welfare, greens, labour, Public Private Partnerships, quality of life, schools, workers' rights - Tags: workers' rights
Paid parental leave, Charter schools, compulsory early childhood education for beneficiaries, family poverty, hungry children (Turei’s Child Payment Bill): it’s all about the(ir?) money as far as NAct is concerned. So much so that Bill English has been trying to use dodgy figures to justify his premature veto of Labour MP Sue Moroney’s Bill to extend paid parental leave. And the government is supporting dodgy John Bank’s Charter Schools to gamble with children’s futures in order to further their economic and profit based agenda: their real agenda is about undermining teacher unions and providing opportunities for private profit. As Green MP Catherine Delahunty says, it’s a dog’s breakfast of a Bill. Here is an edited selection of points Delahunty makes about the bad ideas in the Bill (more of her points at the link):
- No requirements for registered teachers at charter schools,
- Protection for these ‘sponsors’ from public accountability as they will not be included in the Official Information Act or audited by the Ombudsman,
- Additional powers around surrendering and retention of student’s property including electronic devices and the information on them,
- Third parties will be allowed to use Crown land to build ECE centres, presumably for profit.
With their lingering patriarchal attitudes, the government treats children merely as the responsibility of, and investment for their parents, and a cost to the taxpayer. In a government dominated by men of comfortable means, the daily and major responsibility and practice of child care rests with someone else – mainly women, along with some progressive men.
Yet, children are the future of our whole society, not just an economic investment in the future. We can both educate and nurture them to deal with the uncertain future of our planet, and learn from the fresh and unique insight. There are substantial benefits from enabling parents of very young children to spend time caring for them and to bond with them, unpressured by the routines of paid employment. This will ensure better adjusted adults that can contribute to an inclusive and caring society. But our government would rather spend all their money on supporting ventures that siphon off profits to a few capitalists: tax cuts for the wealthy, bailing out finance companies, RONs over public transport, convention centres, sports stadiums…. the list goes on.
Sue Moroney’s members’ Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave) Amendment Bill will extend the leave from 14 weeks to 6 months. It has the support of UNICEF-NZ, because:
“There is a strong body of evidence that investment made in infant care in the early months of a child’s life, can avoid huge costs in remedial services later on. Attachment, bonding and a secure environment help with good brain development, as well as a strong foundation for a healthier life.
“The jury is well in on this – families, infants and wider society all benefit from parents having the time off work to spend with a new baby.
The bill is supported by the CTU, because:
“We know from a number of evaluations that 14 weeks PPL is too short. People are returning back to work early because of economic pressures and extending PPL would certainly remove some of these pressures and allow parents time with their newborn baby in those crucial first months. There are strong and proven health and employment reasons for having a longer paid parental leave. The goal of PPL is to support both maternal and health of the baby, but current length of paid leave in New Zealand doesn’t do this adequately.”
The bill is supported by Plunket, because:
“The bill would be a step towards aligning ourselves to other countries with more generous paid parental leave legislation. It would also affirm New Zealand’s commitment to the United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Child”, she says.
Possible benefits from the outcomes of the bill could include:
- significant benefits to the whole country long term
- improved infant psycho social health through attachment
- improved general health through breast feeding
- reduced admissions for communicable and respiratory diseases and skin infections
- reduced stress for families
- community development (through improved connection as mothers stay home longer and look to community support)
Yet, even though Bill English’s shonky estimates of the financial impact of the Bill, should it become law, have been shown to be a massive overstatement, he is still planning to veto the bill. This is short-sighted, short-term and patriarchal thinking from an earlier century.
We need policies that will ensure an adequate standard of living and quality of life for all, especially the children.