Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (13 March) . . Page.. 1008 ..
MR CORNWELL (continuing):
An amendment to standing order 210 to allow a member of the Assembly who is breastfeeding an infant to be exempted from the provisions of Standing Order 210.
I find that extraordinary from somebody who purports, repeatedly, to represent a society that is centuries old and is the home of democracy.
Therefore, I welcome Ms Tucker's amendment because it gives an opportunity for the entire question to be considered by the Administration and Procedure Committee, which is perfectly right. Let me read standing order 210:
While the Assembly is sitting a Member may not bring any visitor into, nor may any
visitor be present in, any part of the Chamber appropriated to the Members of the Assembly.
That does not prevent breastfeeding in the galleries but in parts of the chamber "appropriated to members of the Assembly", That is all. There is no problem. That is an aspect that needs to be considered by the Administration and Procedure Committee in accordance with Ms Tucker's sensible amendment to this original motion.
We can look at this because we do not have to canvass only the question of breastfeeding. Why don't we allow advisers onto the floor of the house, for example, Mr Speaker? Surely their attending the floor of the house would be a little more regular than somebody wanting to breastfeed.
The other point that needs to be considered in relation to this is the size of this Assembly and the generosity that is extended in terms of pairs. If a member of this Assembly was breastfeeding, I do not think there would be any problem about her having a pair in order to breastfeed. There is a perfectly good chamber lounge out there behind your chair, Mr Speaker, which she could use for that. There are a number of options. It seems to me that the woman in the Victorian Parliament was extremely poorly briefed on the practices of the house if she was not aware that this was not allowed. In fact, one could be forgiven for imagining that it was a political stunt.
I would hope that, in looking at this matter, Administration and Procedure would also consider the extent of discrimination that may or may not exist in other parts of society. I do not know whether clubs allow breastfeeding at poker machines. What happens at a funeral or a wedding? I do not know. What happens in the middle of communion at a church? I do not know. These are issues that need to be canvassed by any investigation into this matter by this parliament.
But bear in mind that the concept of strangers in the chamber has been around for many centuries, and the idea was to allow members to conduct their business in a degree of privacy-I won't say silence; I accept Ms MacDonald's comments earlier about that. We did not end up with Hogarth's gin lane or anything-those 18th century paintings where people seemed to be all over the floor of chambers of the law and even at court. There were dogs and all sorts of things around.
If we are going to be able to do our business properly here, then we need some form of privacy. I do not object to this matter going to Administration and Procedure, certainly under Ms Tucker's sensible motion. I do not know, to read from a media release that I