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Metiria Turei speaks in the General Debate on Mothers

METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green): Parenting is the most important job in the world. It is the most important job in the world. As a mother who has raised a child to adulthood, I can tell you that for me it is the most rewarding job I have ever done. But some days—some days—it felt like the hardest job, especially in those times when I just did not have enough money to stretch. I had to choose between food and rent or food and power. There just was not enough to go around. Anyone who has been in that position and there are thousands—thousands—of parents, mothers, and fathers, who have been in that position. They know the stress of worrying about how they are going to make ends meet, worrying about whether they can afford to feed their kids that week. We all know that that stress is immense for those families. So I was very pleased earlier this week to announce the "Budget for all mothers" as part of our plan to make sure—

Hon Members: The "mother of all Budgets."

METIRIA TUREI: —the "Budget for all mothers"—to make sure that families do have enough of what they need to do a great job of being parents to their kids. All families need is a little bit more time and a little bit more money. The Greens "Budget for all mothers" delivers both to all families in this country and we are very proud of that. To make sure that all babies have the support and the care that they need when they are born, we will make sure that anyone who is not entitled to paid parental leave—and many are—will have access to the parental tax credit of $220 a week for the first 10 weeks that they bring their baby home.

And the people who miss out at the moment are people who are on benefits—they may be working, but they are on benefits—people who are students, and people who are on ACC. The people who miss out now are the ones who have the least money at the time when they need it the most. The Green Party is going to fix that. We are going to make sure that newborn babies and their parents have access to a wahakura baby pod—every single one of them. Not all of them will take it up, but every single family will have access to a wahakura or a baby pod, a safe sleeping device with the things that the baby needs for the first 3 months of their life. We know that these safe sleeping devices will save babies' lives. We know that communities who are weaving the wahakura and producing the baby pods want to contribute to the well-being of all newborn babies in this country, and that this is a way that they can do that, to show how much we as a society value every baby that is born in this country.

Every parent I know has to struggle to balance their work commitments with taking care of their children, so we will make sure that every worker gets a minimum of 10 days' sick leave that they can use both for themselves when they are sick and also for domestic leave when they need to take care of their children when their children are sick. I will tell you, we talked a lot of families about this policy before we announced it, just to check that it made sense, and this provision of making more sick leave available to those families was the one where they just went: "Oh my God, yes please. That would make such a difference." They need that time to make sure that they can get their kids to a doctor if they need to, or so that they can stay home and take care of their children when their children are sick so that those children get well and can continue on with their education.

We know that families need a little bit more time and a little bit more money to be able to do the great job that they want to do. This is what social investment actually looks like—helping families at the time that they need the most help, so that they are never driven into abject poverty, like National's "mother of all Budgets" did in the 1990s. The Greens' budget for all mothers will help to make sure that not a single family in this country is driven into poverty, and that is what voters get to choose in September of this year, when they get change the Government from one that will drive families into poverty to one that will make sure families never have to suffer it. Thank you.