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Greens family-friendly push modernises Senate rule

Media Release
Larissa Waters 8 Nov 2016

The Australian Greens are proud to have initiated a successful rule change to make the Australian Senate more family friendly by allowing Senators to briefly care for infants in the Chamber.

Australian Greens Deputy Leader and spokesperson for women Senator Larissa Waters said:

“All workplaces should be more family friendly, including Parliaments.“Our Parliament should better reflect our community; we need more young women in Canberra.

“It would have been preferable to expand the Senate rules further to match the House rules so Senators aren’t forced to rely on the good will of the Senate President, but this is still a win. 

“If we want more young women in Parliament, we must make the rules more family friendly to allow new mothers and new fathers to balance their parliamentary and parental duties.

“All new parents, including fathers, can now briefly care for their infant in the chamber which should encourage male MPs to better share the responsibilities of raising kids. 

“Women are still taking on the majority of unpaid labour like raising kids, putting them at a disadvantage in the workplace.

“I now call on both major parties and the crossbench to work towards family-friendly workplaces for all Australians.

“Closing the gender pay gap, more flexible working hours for new mums and dads, access to affordable childcare and encouraging fairer sharing of unpaid labour should be a high priority for MPs from all parties,” Senator Waters said.

Background:

Today the Senate formally  adopted amendments to standing orders allowing a Senator to care for an infant briefly, at the discretion of the President, provided it does not disrupt the Senate's business.  

Senate procedure committee report recommending the change: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Procedure/2016/report1/c01

While the changes accepted are not as broad as those made earlier this year in the House of Representatives, they will help new mothers and fathers balance parental responsibilities with their workplace duties.

Earlier in 2016, the House of Representatives rules changes to allow MPs to care for an infant in the Chamber. 

Contact: Lauren Gillin 0419 626 725

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