Parental leave – did English know or care what he was vetoing?

Written By: - Date published: 7:02 am, June 30th, 2016 - 84 comments
Categories: babies, bill english, families, national, quality of life - Tags: , , , ,

Last night the final act of Sue Moroney’s paid parental leave bill played out in Parliament, as Labour struggled to get a symbolic vote in the face of Bill English’s disgraceful and undemocratic veto.

English vetoed on the grounds of “unaffordability”, but did he actually know the cost?

English admits maths error in bill veto defence

Finance Minister Bill English has admitted he got his numbers wrong when he was defending his decision to veto a Labour Party bill to extend paid parental leave.

Mr English put the nail in the coffin of the legislation when he tabled a financial veto the week before last.

At the time he told RNZ that he did so because the costs of extending the leave to 26 weeks were simply too high.

“The six months paid parental leave would add about, when it’s fully in place, about $280 million a year on top of the current $250m we spend,” he said

Ms Moroney challenged him about the figures in Parliament.

“Does he stand by his statement to Radio New Zealand on 17 June 2016 that extending paid parental leave to 26 weeks would add when it’s fully in place about $280 million a year.”

Mr English admitted he was incorrect and should have used the figures written in the veto certificate he himself had tabled.

Ms Moroney then asked how Mr English got it so wrong.

He replied that he did so because he confused the $280m over four years, with $280m a year….

Yup, that’s how much English knew about the cost of the bill – supported by a majority in Parliament – that he vetoed on the grounds of cost. (Unusual for English he’s usually knows where the last $20 is.) As to whether or not English cared – well – not enough to speak to the debate last night. Shame.

84 comments on “Parental leave – did English know or care what he was vetoing?”

  1. Incognito 1

    I reckon that the actual cost didn’t matter at all in Bill’s decision to veto the bill and I think it’s obvious that, in Bill’s opinion, already too much is spent on parental leave. It’s the kind of policy that doesn’t sit well with the Nats and the only reason they extended it to 18 weeks was ‘political expediency’ and most certainly not (!) because they care or cared.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      +1

    • Kevin 1.2

      I get the feeling he believes a woman’s place is in the home anyway.

    • mosa 1.3

      Yes , so used to “swallowing dead rats” such as working for families that Key described as “middle class welfare” but its helped him win 3 elections, its all about expediency.
      Cost will be the last thing on their minds a year from now when the money will be there for an extension to 26 weeks to help with the family friendly image for the General election and that must win fourth term.
      As for the cock up with the figures its just pure incompetence and a sign he is Not or ever has been on top of his game.
      Its the same as the mythical surplus and this guy is in charge of the countries finances!!
      My pick is he will retire in 2017 after a lacklustre career.

  2. vto 2

    If it was the Paid Pregnant Farmers Leave Bill then he would have sponsored it himself…

    Recall Bill English fraudulently amended things so he could spend $1,700,000,000 (that’s $1.7billion) on reimbursing incompetent South Canterbury Finance investors…

    These are the priorities of Bill English

    beneath contempt

    • Halfcrown 2.1

      “Recall Bill English fraudulently amended things so he could spend $1,700,000,000 (that’s $1.7billion) on reimbursing incompetent South Canterbury Finance investors…”

      Yeah agree. The rest of New Zealanders ended up with the OBR introduced by this prat. As I said yesterday I would not trust this Double Dipping Dickhead from Dipton with the local Boy Scouts Jamboree money.

  3. Gosman 3

    Major expenditure decisions are the preserve of the government hence the veto. If the main party of government does not approve then it won’t get through. If you want to get this spending convince enough voters at the next election. That is democracy.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1

      Really Gosman? How informative. I’m sure you’re the first person to mention it.

      Do you think the officially stated reasons for vetoing the will of Parliament should be connected to reality in any way?

      • Gosman 3.1.1

        If you don’t like it then work for a different government. It is the prerogative of the government to do this. It is not undemocratic because governments need to be able to control spending and revenue.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1.1.1

          Gosh, you don’t say. Honestly Gosman, I don’t know what I’d do if you weren’t here to point out the obvious and the mundane.

          Do you think the officially stated reasons for vetoing the will of Parliament should be connected to reality in any way? Or are you going to make yet another vacuity?

      • Gosman 3.1.2

        If you don’t like it then work for a different government. It is the prerogative of the government to do this. It is not undemocratic because governments need to be able to control spending and revenue. If they can’t then a new election should be called.

        • Greg 3.1.2.1

          I wont bother to list the near waste of money English signs of on, its no wonder he went into politics, if he was running a business, it wouldnt be in business very long. But hey guess what, taxpayers are a endless source of money, until they revolt.

    • AmaKiwi 3.2

      @ Gosman

      That is NOT democracy. It is an elected dictatorship, which is why we don’t trust politicians of any stripe.

      In a democracy the people decide directly.

      In a democracy the threat of having a binding binding referendum forces MPs to be much more responsive to what the majority of the people want.

      Imagine the humiliation of Key & Co. having to fight (and lose) binding referendums on TPPA, the Saudi $11 million abattoir giveaway, Sky Casino pokeys, charter schools, tax cuts for the rich, Christchurch rebuild, charter schools, etc., etc.

      • Gosman 3.2.1

        No, it is democracy just one you don’t think is the best form of democracy. It is representative and not direct democracy. If you want to change the form of democracy then campaign for it.

        • AmaKiwi 3.2.1.1

          @ Gosman

          You will be singing a different tune when the next Left government imposes its dictatorial edicts on you.

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 3.3

      Gosman’s sideways statement about democracy is an attempt to distract attention from the real issues raised by the post:

      1) English faked (or cocked up) the numbers to an awful extent and
      2) English is generally opposed to social spending on principle.

      • Heather Grimwood 3.3.1

        to US at 3.3 : I agree with ” English opposed to social spending etc” . In reference to Sue’s bill, he stated at it’s inception, many moons ago, that it would be vetoed. I’ve not noticed any reference in media to that fact ( though may have missed it). To me, that indicates a dictatorial possibly petty frame-of-reference.
        As to his mistaking figures, well it was obvious that the figures he gave were wrong. I wondered too why THAT hadn’t been picked up….or maybe it was and not commented on.

        • UncookedSelachimorpha 3.3.1.1

          Yep, English’s view was already decided by his ideology, irrespective of any actual information.

  4. Lanthanide 4

    Interesting that Grant Robertson is suggesting the standing orders need to be changed so that if the veto is used, the minister doing it must front to parliament to address the chamber.

    But he’s not suggesting the veto itself be removed. Clearly he thinks it is an acceptable and democratic lever of our parliamentary process.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1

      Is anyone suggesting the veto be removed?

    • Hanswurst 4.2

      I’m not sure whether that’s clear at all, actually, Lanth.

    • AmaKiwi 4.3

      @ Lanthanide

      “But Grant Robertson is not suggesting the veto itself be removed.”

      Nope. I vote Labour/Green because I think their dictator will be better than National’s dictator. But I want democracy, not elected dictators of any color.

      • Lanthanide 4.3.1

        Like the Brexit referendum, where “the public” voted, but were very poorly informed and in fact lied to by both sides of the debate?

    • framu 4.4

      i think both veto and urgency need to be reformed –

      fronting to parliament and having the reason for its use go no record feels like a good step

      i see nothing wrong with the veto in theory – but its clear that bill is using it for partisan purposes and using the budget as an election tool (tax cuts)

      • Lanthanide 4.4.1

        If we insisted the government only act in the best interests of all members of society, that would likely rule out all governments we’ve had in the last 50-60 years at least.

        • framu 4.4.1.1

          well yeah – but im not getting the link there

          im just in favour of MPs having to explain themselves when they use such measures

          • Lanthanide 4.4.1.1.1

            My point is that you said English was just doing this for “partisan reasons”. My response is that every government has done various things for partisan reasons, ie things that weren’t in the best interests of *all* members of our society.

            Now obviously when you’re distributing resources around, there will be winners and losers, and while I think Labour governments are generally fairer to more people than National ones, I’m sure you can find examples of Labour governments doing things they ought not to have, for political/partisan purposes.

            • Crashcart 4.4.1.1.1.1

              I think you are arguing a point that isn’t being made. Yes all parties will make decisions based upon “partisan reasons”. That is not necessarily wrong. They should however have to make it clear that this is the case so that when election time comes the electorate can make decisions based upon their record.

              Using the Veto and putting out false information as to why, then not fronting up to explain is unacceptable. Forcing the government to do so would only help democracy.

              • Draco T Bastard

                I think you are arguing a point that isn’t being made. Yes all parties will make decisions based upon “partisan reasons”. That is not necessarily wrong.

                Yes, that’s wrong. The only thing that decisions should be based upon is fact and reality.

                That pretty much precludes modern economics as it’s almost pure delusion.

              • Lanthanide

                So you’re arguing that some partisan actions are acceptable, and others aren’t?

                What general rule should we use to determine which partisan actions are acceptable, and which aren’t?

                • framu

                  its a veto solely for economic and budget reasons, that can overturn a bill that has votes to pass

                  pretty sure that would qualify as something that shouldnt be used for partisan reasons

                  • Lanthanide

                    “its a veto solely for economic and budget reasons, that can overturn a bill that has votes to pass”

                    Yes, that’s the definition of “financial veto”.

                    “pretty sure that would qualify as something that shouldnt be used for partisan reasons”

                    It’s being used for economic and budget reasons.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      It’s being used for economic and budget reasons.

                      I’d call bollocks on that. It’s being done because National don’t want to increase PPL and the reasons for that will be partisan and have nothing to do with the budget. After all, spending can be increased as it will be next year when National give more tax cuts.

                    • framu

                      then “fronting to parliament and having the reason for its use go no record feels like a good step”

            • Draco T Bastard 4.4.1.1.1.2

              Now obviously when you’re distributing resources around, there will be winners and losers

              Doesn’t have to be.

            • framu 4.4.1.1.1.3

              yeah – your arguing against a point im not making

      • McFlock 4.4.2

        cabinet manual
        urgency
        now the financial veto.

        These are all things that this government has abused so hard that they need reform.

        • Lanthanide 4.4.2.1

          I’m not convinced the financial veto has been “abused”.

          It’s never been used to veto an entire bill before, but was used several times by the last Labour government. I don’t recall any outcry about it then.

          • McFlock 4.4.2.1.1

            There’s your answer.

            It was used to shitcan an entire bill because that’s the only way they could shitcan the bill. The bill was popular inside and outside of parliament, the nats have been dragging their feet for years on it, and so they use staffing projections to act as the excuse for the veto.

            • Lanthanide 4.4.2.1.1.1

              So if you have a long bill that has lots of individual spending proposals, it’s ok to veto parts of them.

              If you have a short bill that has one single spending proposal, it’s not ok to veto that?

              I mean, he could have just vetoed the clause where additional money was paid, and left the rest of the bill intact. What would be the sense in that?

              • McFlock

                It wasn’t actually a “spending proposal” as such.
                What it did do was put obligations on everyone, including the crown, that might have resulted in increased costs.

                Reading up on the veto, it seems that the previous uses have been largely the minimum remainder after compromise and negotiation. In this case they could have put in a exclusion for government employers. They could have phased it in to lower the impact. They could have done many things to mitigate the alleged financial impact on crown expenses. But they didn’t. The only thing they said was “we’ll veto it”. Bam.

                That’s an abuse of power, in my book.

                • Lanthanide

                  You realise that Paid Parental Leave is paid by the government to private individuals, right?

                  It doesn’t matter if they’re employed by the government or not – it’s the government that pays the money.

                  http://www.ird.govt.nz/yoursituation-ind/parents/parents-paid-parental-leave.html

                  “We’ll pay PPL payments directly into your bank account each fortnight. “

                  • McFlock

                    d’oh

                    fair call. I’d confused it with holiday pay, which is from the employer.

                    Even though it was still a small-minded decision and they could have put it in for subsequent years so that this year’s budget still added up, I’ll just wander into the corner now.

                    • Lanthanide

                      Yes, you’re right in that there was still compromises they could have made, to delay the implementation and scale it in over a longer period of time. Presumably the opposition would have agreed to that, while grumbling about it.

                      But at the end of the day, it is the Government that decides what the budget is, and what areas are going to be prioritised for funding. Bill English’s point that they spent a similar amount of money on increasing the benefits for everyone by $25/week is quite a fair one. They’ve decided that they want to keep their future budgets open for other spending that may be of higher priority than PPL is. They might increase spending on Pharmac for example.

                      Now, we all know that National are saving up a war chest to offer tax cuts, so the likelihood in this case is that the money is simply being saved up so it can be squandered on the public at large instead of those with new babies who could benefit more greatly from targeted spending. But that’s really beside the point – it’s the government that sets the budgets for future spending in the manner they see fit.

                      If we don’t like the government’s spending plans, the democratic avenue open to us is to change the government.

                    • Lanthanide

                      On the matter of compromises, did the opposition actually offer any compromises themselves? Like when English threatened the veto, did they say “ok, well what if we phase this in over 5 years then?”

                    • McFlock

                      They might do this that or the other.

                      But I’m not sure they’ll do any of it – the benefit increases have quite possibly been matched by kicking other people off benefits, for example. This government is masterful at getting the headlines while not really delivering improvements for people (fisi’s delusions notwithstanding).

  5. Greg 5

    Confused, he’s the Finance Minister of the Government, he should’nt get confused.
    If he can get confused over something as basic as simple costing timeframe, then he is no longer fit for his job.
    What else will he get confused with.

    • Gosman 5.1

      If you have problems with his costings in the budget then point them out. However that would tend to suggest his support from Treasury may be lacking.

      • Armchair Critic 5.1.1

        The best counter point you have is “he was allowed to do it”? That’s very weak, and shallow, though it’s also sadly consistent with your support for a finance minister who lacks a grasp of simple detail and can’t do basic maths.
        I see no reason for anyone to read any more of your comments on this thread until you can improve.

    • Gosman 5.2

      If you have problems with his costings in the budget then point them out. However that would tend to suggest his support from Treasury may be lacking.

    • AmaKiwi 5.3

      @ Greg

      “What else will the finance minister get confused with?”

      He’s confused about whether government is a business or meant to serve the best interests of all the people.

      • Greg 5.3.1

        National love to preach how Government isnt a business, at least when their in the opposition seats. Then its all game on when they have the Treasury credit card.
        Which is why English will be out next year, and leave the card maxed out to 150 Billion.

    • M. Gray 5.4

      Telling porkies as he is good at it

  6. Sabine 6

    Mathing for a living is hard work and besides he does not care.

    National shit at Math since ages ago.

  7. M. Gray 7

    Bill English the man who got free rent on the tax payer and is now selling our state houses to the wealthy .

  8. mac1 8

    English’s parsimony and motivation is one thing.

    I’d like to see some discussion on whether the Government should have the power to over-ride the will of Parliament as expressed in an Act of Parliament. Which is sovereign? Government or Parliament?

    Since members of the government, the minor party/parties which supported the Bill to become an Act, voted for it, this potentially forces a prospective wedge between partners in government. This could be inherently a destabilising action, as the only way it seems for a minor government partner to get the will of Parliament carried through is to leave the government and thereby force an election, or at least use the threat of such destabilisation. Am I right in this?

    Or government might resign because its will has been over-ridden by its partners in Parliament thereby causing a loss of confidence issue.

    It may be a good thing to destabilise and end this government early but in terms of the practice of our democracy, not desirable.

    I’d appreciate some constitutional wisdom from a competent commentator on this.

  9. He vetoed it as payback – he didn’t care what the bill was, didn’t care about the money – he wanted to show spite and vindictive smallness and he went for it – and now the pettiness of english is there for all to see – shit he’ll get as bad a rep on pettiness as finlayson soon if he keeps this up – just joking – ain’t NO one taking that crown off chris’s head

    • Greg 9.1

      They need the money for another big IRD extra payment when Key changes the rules for zero rate company trusts.
      Will the opposition get a detailed breakdown of where and how the IRD wasted 205 million in April, all for a Key fantasy financial hub, that just returns a profit of 23 million.
      How isnt this Racketeering, a law that Americans so like to get crooked elected politicians, and crime bosses, time in jail for.

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11665089

    • M. Gray 9.2

      Yeah I heard him (Bill) mumbling on RNZ he was being interviewed by Guyon he sounded just like all the others, arrogant and full of it and no one has a right to question me type of attitude. I cant believe so many NZers got sucked into voting this mob in again after all the damage they did last time they were in.

  10. dv 10

    Dosent that mean he has misled parliament?

    • Lanthanide 10.1

      No, his statement was to RNZ. The documents he tabled in Parliament were accurate.

      • Sabine 10.1.1

        so he just misled err lied to the public listening to the Radio? I guess its all good then.

        • Lanthanide 10.1.1.1

          It’s up to the opposition to hold him to account. The Speaker doesn’t have to.

  11. save nz 11

    I guess double dipper, does not have either care or knowledge of what he is voting for. He just does what he is told. Must be great to be a Natz MP, just sit on the mat, do what you are told, bully your oponents and cash your pay cheque.

  12. Draco T Bastard 12

    The financial veto and the constitution(2012)

    But our Parliament grew again, with MMP shifting power from the executive to the legislature. In recognition of this – and the fact that the government no longer had an inbuilt majority to vote down spending – the Standing Orders were changed, introducing the “financial veto”. This reflected the law at the time. But then, in 2005, the law was repealed. So now we have a financial veto with no underlying statutory authority.

    An interesting point. Parliament is supreme – not the government.

    • Lanthanide 12.1

      “So now we have a financial veto with no underlying statutory authority.”

      This was already addressed in the 2014 review of standing orders, and they found that not to be the case:

      From the outset it was recognised that the financial veto procedure was “not consistent” with section 21 of the Constitution Act 1986, which required bills involving appropriations or charges on the public revenue to have the consent of the Crown. The Standing Orders Committee proposed remedying this inconsistency by repealing or modifying section 21; this recommendation was reiterated in 2003, and section 21 was repealed in 2005. However, this repeal does not justify the removal of the financial veto procedure—it was predicated on the procedure remaining intact

      In other words, the repeal only happened on the basis that the financial veto stay in place, or another slant: these two things were incompatible with each other, so one of them had to go. They chose to keep the veto and remove the legislation that contradicted it.

      https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/reports/document/50DBSCH_SCR56780_1/review-of-standing-orders-2014-i18a

  13. Richardrawshark 13

    How did they turn Peter Dunne, I wonder?

    After several question to Bill on Tuesday I think it was, Bill actually gave his reason during question time,

    The fact he’d already given 25 per week to the most needy of poor families by an increase in benefit, and that they already extended paid parental leave, he didn’t think it wise to go that extra distance of paid parental leave. Was pretty much my recall of his reply.

    When he finally mumbled the truth it sounded more plausible than the stupid figures and silly buggers he was playing.

    Why he never came out and just said that to start with is beyond me. It’s like they want to look nasty. perhaps they are feeling the pressure and want to retire to their three term pension. Fuck knows with this lot. logic is not how they roll.

    • Lanthanide 13.1

      Well in the interview with RNZ, which is where he very clearly on the record got the numbers between 4 years and 1 year mixed up, he did in fact also say that line about $25/week for benefit increases and not thinking it was prudent to extend PPL further.

      So I think it’s rather a case of the media not reporting the whole story, rather than English/National changing their tune over time.

      • Richardrawshark 13.1.1

        OK I never heard the RNZ interview, concur about media, painting it as they see fit as usual to fit there agenda.

        Still think he’s a cock was an extra 120 mil, he knew the figures, did it out of spite or of a dislike for Maroney more the issue.

        Or the most numerically illiterate finance minister of all time.

        He’s a fkn Joke, and was as PM, as a person he’s a complete stuck up cock.

        In any civilized European government i saw he’d have been sacked 5 years ago

  14. Geoff K 14

    The veto was signaled, and part of the National manifesto BEFORE the 2014 General Election. To say, the majority of NZ agreed with 26 weeks paid parental leave is playing fast and loose with the Truth. It was presented to the Country Democratically, voted-on Democratically, and rejected BY THE ELECTORATE, Democratically.
    Most people don’t understand our system of government. The party elected holds the Treasury benches -meaning they alone control the expenditure. If the opposition parties can muster enough votes they can mount a vote of no confidence and then the governing party gives up the treasury benches. This has not happened here and so the governing party has the right to refuse any expenditure not in the budget which they control.

  15. Richardrawshark 15

    If someone you dislike says your power mad, how do you get back at them?, by doing the one thing that pisses them off.

    So when crying over the draconian use of powers in CHCH and emergency Parliament sessions to implement everything under the sun did Sue Moan much?

    Do you think it may have been filed away latter on like,

    When you take away the tin hats and conspiracies you usually find the meaning for most things lies in the human being themselves, simple things like hate, revenge, jealousy, love, etc.

    Bill is just a sicko who did a get back at Maroney either for someone for all of them or for himself.

    Fuck him. Shallow prick.

  16. Thinkerr 16

    Now, if the government proposes new spending of the same or greater amount (could happen) the opposition can point to this veto and raise a question in the house.

  17. Dave Jennings 17

    it’s very clear that Mr ,English is not so good at maths.He shows he is incompetent to be minister of finance .In my opinion his mistake is deliberate.

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