Rules prohibiting infants in the lower house chamber, the House of Representatives, have been changed meaning that mothers will now be able to breastfeed their children as the newly ‘family-friendly’ parliament sits.
MP’s infants will no longer be considered ‘visitors’ in the chamber. Visitors are allowed in the viewing galleries but not on the floor of the house.
“No member male or female will ever be prevented from participating fully in the operation of the parliament by reason of having the care of a baby,” Leader of the House Christopher Pyne said on Tuesday, boasting of a ‘family-friendly’ parliament.
“There is absolutely no reason that rules should remain in place which make life in politics and the parliament more difficult for women,” he added.
“While this significant change only requires a single sentence to be amended in the rule book, I hope it sends a clear message,” he said.
The breastfeeding in parliament issue came to the fore again in 2015 when Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer was advised to manage the expression of her breast milk better in order that she did not have to miss votes on the floor of parliament while feeding her baby.
At the time, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called for a change to the rules.
Despite the changes, however, O’Dwyer has indicated she will not breastfeed in the chamber.
In the upper house, the Senate, nursing mothers are already allowed to breastfeed, according to an exemption enacted back in 2003.