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Parliament as family-friendly workplace? « Previous | |Next »
February 27, 2003

So the Victorian Parliament throws out a women MP---Kirstie Marshall---because she was breast-feeding during 11-day-old Charlotte prior to question time. As an MP Kirstie Marshall is expected to be in the Legislative Assembly during question time. Its part of the job.

Will the Brack's Labor Government have the courage to modernize the institution of Parliament? Or will it allow itself to be crushed by the weight of tradition that recoils from female embodiment? Or will it draw a line in the sand and defend the indefensible in the name of reason----that 11-day-old Charlotte was "a stranger in the house" and that's not allowed when parliament is sitting.

Parliament can hardly be called a family-friendly workplace.

Does the Victorian Parliament have parenting rooms for nursing mothers and fathers looking after children?

I was told a story about the masculine culture of Old Parliament House in Canberra: it never even had toilet facilities for women. The fancy new one built as icon of Australian modernity does not have child-care facilities.

This does indicate that the Howard Government's third term agenda involving work/family matters has some limitations. Apparently John Howard presented to a cabinet strategy meeting possible new directions the Government could take to support mothers in balancing their work and family responsibilities.

Do these initiatives to encourage family-friendly workplace policies include child care facilities at Parliament House?

Me thinks such a reform is a big test for political reason. Or will it close off the prospect of conflict and tension between the ethos and principles of private and public life? Will it avoid dealing with a practical crisis of what are seen as two unpleasant alternatives.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:35 PM | | Comments (6)



According to Kirstie Marshall herself, the Sergeant-At-Arms told her there actually is a room set aside for mothers to feed.

Hi James,
That would make the Victorian Parliament reasonably progressive.

The Federal Parliament has a room set aside--sort of a spare all-purpose general utility room in differnt wings that can be used for family puposes.

But how about full child care facilities? Does the Vic Parliament have that?

Last I heard, big bad business-men like me had to get our heads around providing large amounts of maternity leave for mums and perhaps eventually dads too, to look after their lil'uns at home.

Now I'm being told they should bring their bubs to work. I wonder what the Occupational Health and Safety experts will have to say about this. Streuth, I better check the public liability insurance again, to see if I'm covered.

Relax, the problems will disappear at age 5 when the workers pack them off to compulsory school. Perhaps if I use a flexible Labour Hire Company instead of permanent workers, I can be a bit more selective with my labour requirements, avoid these extra costs and stay one jump ahead of my competitors.

And I thought progress was getting kids out of the coal mines. Dunno! It's all a bit confusing to me. Wonder how they're dealing with this in China?

In China, they are dealing with it by combining the one-child policy with the rapid dismantling of the state employment system. So, by the time that Chinese couples have worked out whether it is economically rational to have a child or not, the woman then has to figure out whether it is statistically safe to have a child or not. Then there is the consideration whether to be traditional or to follow the life of Western role models as seen on tv. Does one follow the role model of Everybody Loves Raymond or Sex in the City? By the time they work this out, the woman is too old to have a child. Problem solved.


You mean they've moved on from idolising Fred McMurray and 'My Three Sons'(or more) on the old Imperialist black and white nut-box. Always were a race attracted to Great Leaps Forward!

Two of my friends went to China last year, spending most of their time in the south. While there were plenty of rice paddies, stunning vistas etc., there were also plenty of discos.

The most disturbing pictures that they brought back were of a couple of industrial cities - amazing in a bad way.