Phil O’Reilly got to the nub of the Paid Parental Leave debate on Q&A yesterday:
The debate that we need to have is about should we, for example, subsidise wealthy mums or should we give that to very poor mums looking after kids at risk?
Those criticising Bill English for saying National will veto the private members’ Bill seeking an extension to PPL would have us believe that all mothers are being forced back to work too soon after having a child because they can’t afford to stay at home.
They don’t tell us that PPL isn’t means tested and that at least some of those who get it from the taxpayer would have got it from their employers nor that some employers pay employees to enable them to take more leave.
The left would have us believe it’s every woman’s right to have PPL, paid for from borrowing, whether or not she needs it.
What is right about giving money to people who don’t need it when there are so many other areas where it is absolutely necessary?
What is more important for individual parents and children and society: PPL for all who qualify regardless of their means or more targeted assistance to the poor who are in real need?
That question doesn’t apply just to PPL, of course.
It is an indictment on how far to the left we have moved as a society that there are a whole lot of other benefits which are regarded as ‘entitlements’ regardless of how much the recipients need them, or whether they need them at all.
Once they’ve been given it is very difficult to take them away. But we could at least make a stand to ensure that any assistance in future is based on need not want.