Kathy and I cared for foster children over a number of years, including babies and toddlers.
I well understand the diffculties of blending work and the responsibilities of caring for children. There are a number of worksplaces and public facilties which are not supportive of people with children. Whether it is appropriate to expect that they should be or need to be is another question.
The Australian Federal Parliament is not a child-unfriendly place.
The work that senators do is serious. They review legislation which potentially affects the lives and well-being of every Australian. They are paid well to do so. Parliament is set up so they can do their work in an atmosphere free from distactions and unnecessary annoyances.
Senators come from all walks of life. I am glad that amongst the business men and women, unionists and career politicians, there are some people with young children.
As well as personal staff, members of parliament have access to tax-payer funded child care services, and quiet rooms where they be with their children without disrupting discussion in the house, where they can hear any debate, and from where their vote can be recorded.
So with all this support, and other options available, why did Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young insist on taking her two year old daughter Kora into the Senate chamber?
As Wendy Hargreaves pointed out in yesterday’s Herald Sun:
Infantile screaming is nothing new to our Federal Parliament. Political bawlers come in all ages and political colours.
But this week’s wah-wah effort by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young takes political mewling to an all-time low …
It’s not enough that they make us feel guilty for turning on a heater. Now they’re sending the Senate into a guilt trip for refusing infants.
This isn’t a play centre. This is the Upper House of Australia’s Federal Parliament.
Australian parents know the difficulty and the cost of arranging child care, and the pain of leaving a child to be looked after by someone else. They do it day after day without complaining.
By all means let Senator Hanson-Young take her daughter to Canberra. And to parliament if she cannot organise anything else.
But please Senator, don’t tell us you are hard done by if you don’t follow the rules, and won’t use the resources we pay for to help you do your job.