Women in parliament should be allowed to breastfeed wherever they choose 166

Let's Talk


View Profile

For all the arguments about whether women MPs should or should not be allowed to breastfeed their babies in the upper and lower houses of parliament, it’s taken one MP to put the argument into perspective.

Labor MP Amanda Rishworth, who is one of three female MPs with infants said she would be unlikely to breastfeed her baby in parliament under the glare of cameras.

“I think it’s great that they’re looking at flexibility but at same time I don’t know if it would work for me and my baby,” she said.

The question of whether women should be allowed to feed their babies when parliament is sitting came to a head when Liberal frontbencher Kelly O’Dwyer was told by the former Whip Scott Buchholz to express milk so she wouldn’t miss any votes.

However Mr Buchholz was unaware that nursing MPs were allowed proxy votes in the House of Representatives.

“I wouldn’t probably choose to breastfeed in the chamber, I feel that the ability to have the proxy vote is really useful,” said Ms Rishworth.

“But everyone’s different and the more the flexible options the better.”

A procedures inquiry is currently underway, attempting to navigate a very modern problem around a traditional system. For example, when some MPs have tried to take their children into the chamber in the past, there have been objections that it is against the rules.

Whatever is decided, the government needs to set an example as an inclusive workplace.

“It’s very important to the committee that its final report reflects the values and opinions of members of this House, said South Australian backbencher Andrew Southcott, who is chair of the Procedures Committee.

“The committee is also aware that the practices and procedures of the House should meet changing community expectations with regard to encouraging women to breastfeed, supporting women’s participation in the workforce and balancing work and family,” Dr Southcott said.

Do you think women should be allowed to breastfeed in both houses of parliament? If you were a nursing mum today, would you want to? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. This is a tricky one for me, I believe women should be able to breast feed their babies when they are hungry but our Parliament conducts the business of Australia and all important issues are decided in there. I think there should be no distractions from the job they are paid to do.

    6 REPLY
    • Sorry Libbi I’m usually the first cab of the rank to support your comments but mate this one is irrational. Given the crap and carry on that occurs daily in our nations Parliament while supposedly conducting important business I seriously doubt breast feeding a baby would be a distraction. Given a womans undeniable ability, proven time and time again, to multi task I’m sure breast feeding a child and doing their parliamentry duties in the chamber would be a doddle.

    • Tim you could be right hun, I am not an expert on this , and this is just my opinion for whatever that counts

    • Mate I will defend to the death your right to have it. Ha ha ha as strange as it may seem I’m not an expert on the “girls” either. Admirer yes. Expert no.

    • I’m wondering if it’s fair to the baby. In a perfect situation a mother would be giving her full attention to the baby in peaceful surroundings while feeding. I know that few situations are perfect but I can’t imagine the chamber providing a very peaceful environment. They might finish up with a lot of colicky babies ?

    • Deanna given the Parliament, on a good day, is full of colicky babies would anyone notice? I take your point though there could be serious child cruelty implications.

    • I breast fed all up for 9 years believe me your attention is not slways riveted on your baby, multi tasking isn’t it what women are renown for.

  2. I agree with you there,however surely there are rooms set aside for that very purpose as there are in shopping malls where infants can be fed and changed!

  3. I bet a lot of those older men will be delighted at the young women breast feeding near them, what a distraction

    2 REPLY
    • Sadly yes Leanna there are those who find the sight of a woman breast feeding titillating and many who have failed to keep abreast of more enlightened thoughts on breast feeding. Happily the old mores surrounding this most natural of acts are disappearing with young mothers asserting their rights.

    • Tim Hodgetts funnily enough I think there is far more debate today than when i fed my kids 30+ years ago. Never go told not to feed in public, people often came and talked to me

  4. This would be a insult to the older male members of either house.

    6 REPLY
    • Speaking as a man I think it may the opposite reaction from many of those old men I am not a mother but I can’t imagine anything worse than being leered at while feeding your infant

    • Yes im a woman but can’t understand why these mothers think its ok to just bare yourself in front of everyone most of them don’t even try to cover themselves if anyone else did that they would be in trouble so why’s it dofferent for mothers

    • God people need to grow up, we have boobs for a reason & that is to feed baby’s, if some old perv has nothing better to do than get his kicks from watching something that is natural he needs to get a life.

    • Well said Lyn Bradford, that is a large part of this issue, women’s breasts have become so sexualised, and that’s where this thing comes from about feeding in public and other nonsense, get over it.

  5. parliament is no place for any child, go to another room and feed the child i breast fed all of my kids i simply moved away from people found a quiet place and under the blanket on my shoulder for modesty my babies enjoyed suckling

    7 REPLY
    • Absolute rubbish, it’s attitudes like this that stop mothers from breastfeeding for as long as they can. Why the need to hide under a blanket?

    • Carol have you sat in parliament ?I have & most are asleep anyway, mothers should be able to feed their child any where they want,try remember it’s a hungry child she is feeding …

    • i hid my breasts for modesty and i didnt need the world to see them and what a load of bollocks i fed each of mine for 2 years an ATTITUDE like mine would never STOP anyone breast feeding because its totally personal when and how its done !! mothers do feed anytime and anywhere i just don,t see why a baby needs to be at a place of WORK

    • its attitudes like yours that pisses everyone off why do the mother literally have to sling a TIT to feed when all is needed is a little MODESTY thats all i was saying

    • Why do you have to expose yourselves to everyone & at employers costs? How about just use some common sense & keep this very bonding private time between yourself & your baby to enjoy. You don’t have to make a statement just do what women have been doing forever without the grandstanding!

    • I breast fed each of mine for 3 years and never hid myself away, this bonding private time line is rubbish it is about feeding a baby a normal necessary function when you eat do you go hide yourself away in a room.

  6. I also think women should be allowed to breastfeed anywhere, but I wouldn’t want to breastfeed in front of a computer while I’m working and feel parliament is just as much of a work place. Surely there’s a quiet area that would be more comfortable for both mum and baby.

  7. I would hope breast feeding in parliament is allowed. MPs can make the choice to breast feed there or not. Leading from the top would then clarify the issue as it arises anywhere else. These MPs are being paid to represent their constituents and must be allowed to do so. There may be times that the debate and vote is pertinent to issues in their electorate and they may want to stay in the House. At other times they may feel that they can retreat to another location to feed bub.

    5 REPLY
    • Oh hang on … Roberta has to feed her kid so the nation’s parliament has to halt because she can’t organise herself properly.

    • Baf who is talking about halting parliament. We are talking about women here, we can actually multitask. Breast feeding a baby, listening to debate and casting a vote is not an impossibility. I imagine most mothers try to organise their feeding of bub to be at convenient times. Babies don’t always oblidge.

    • Our parliament is not set up like that. She is elected to serve a term as a member of parliament. How do you propose she represent her electorate if she takes time off for maternity leave. It is nothing like the checkout operator her employer gets someone to replace her while she is away, her electorate can’t do that. I would suspect most MPs would not breastfeed in parliament instead seeking a quiet place elsewhere. Every now and then though there may be something occurring they feel they need to be there for and they should be allowed to be.

    • Baf Kuka, what an ignorant I’ll informed comment. You have absolutely no idea. Go back to your cave.

  8. Feed wherever you choose-just not in the Parliament. These women have a rabbit warren of rooms to choose from- but their screaming kids would fit right in with the other big screaming kids.

  9. They get school children visiting in the Galleries, some consideration should be given for those children , and they should take it to a private room

    5 REPLY
    • Rosalind I disagree. Too often we adults project our misgivings and embarrassment onto children. I think you would find the sight of a breast feeding woman to a child is just something that happens and as interesting as watching paint dry.

    • Good god, why would you have to hide it from children, such an old fashion view point, why is it something to be hidden in the first place, that’s what we have boobs for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *