METIRIA TUREI: Nothing can quite prepare you for parenthood

23/05/2017

Written by Metiria Turei, Green Party co-leader

Nothing can quite prepare you for parenthood.

Sure, you can talk to your mum and dad friends and read all the advice books in the world, but the feeling when you bring your baby home from the hospital is unlike anything else in life.

I know from my own experience as a mum that it’s completely exhilarating, but also overwhelming. That’s why I’m so excited about the Green Party’s latest policy package, the Budget for All Mothers, which we just launched.

The point of the policy is to give parents more time and more money when they need it most. There are four keys parts to that. Firstly, we will extend the Parental Tax Credit (PTC) to cover those 20,000 babies whose parents aren’t currently covered by the PTC or Paid Parental Leave, usually because they’re on a benefit or some other form of assistance. These are the parents who would benefit the most from a little extra help when their baby is born. $220 a week for 10 weeks can help cover the essentials like food for the household, nappies and other bits and pieces that many of us take for granted.

The second part of the policy is to ensure every working person has access to 10 days sick leave a year. That will mean parents can take the time they need to recover from illness themselves, but also stay home and look after their sick kids (and people who aren’t parents will be able to take time off to care for people who depend on them too).

Thirdly, the Budget for All Mothers extends the OSCAR subsidy (for before and after school care and holiday programmes) to all children, regardless of whether their parent is in paid work on not. These programmes provide essential educational and social opportunities that no child should be excluded from.

Finally, the Green Party wants every family to have access to a Wahakura-Baby Pod, which includes a safe sleeping space, as well as clothes, nappies and bedding. We released the Budget for Mothers because we know some parents are doing it tough out there (and yes, the name is a reference to Ruth Richardson’s infamous Mother of All Budgets, which did so much damage to our communities in the early 1990s).

Evidence shows the more supported parents feel, and the more money they have in their back pockets, the more able they are to give their kids the opportunities in life they deserve.

A good government would acknowledge that and do everything it can to make it happen – that’s what a real “social investment approach” would look like.

You can expect to hear a lot more from the Green Party in the coming months about how we can better support families in New Zealand. The Budget for All Mothers is just the first step in that, and I can’t wait to share the rest of our positive, progressive plan with you all as we head towards the election.

Metiria Turei, Green Party co-leader