Australia allows babies to be fed during Parliamentary sittings

In October the assistant treasurer, Kelly O’Dwyer, was reportedly told to ‘express more milk’ in order to feed her baby so she did not miss a vote in the House of Representatives. (Stefan Postles/Getty Images)

Australia is lifting the “antiquated” restrictions that prevent members of parliament from breast- or bottle-feeding their babies in the House of Representatives. Currently, there is an order that prevents “visitors” from entering the chamber, which could be used to object when an infant was brought in, but a motion passed on Tuesday has now changed that rule, allowing in “infants in need of care.”

“I want to see as many women entering parliament as possible and for them to not be deterred by any antiquated rules or practices that currently govern how our parliament operates,” leader of the house, Christopher Pyne, said. “There is absolutely no reason that rules should remain in place which make life in politics and the parliament more difficult for women.”

Under previous parliamentary rules, children were technically banned in the chamber and breastfeeding mothers were given a proxy vote.

The change had the support from the Labor opposition, with manager of opposition business, Tony Burke calling it a “sensible change” which would contribute to making the job of MP more family-friendly. The change also applies to men with caring responsibilities, in case they need to bring their infants into the chamber.

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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