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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (13 March) . . Page.. 1010 ..



building-at least, not to my knowledge-and that needs to be fixed. They would have discovered a lot of other issues about having small children in this building-be that in the chamber or in this building-that need to be addressed, not just for members of the Assembly but for the 100 staff who also work in this building. Administration and Procedure could examine that.

Yes, this is a matter of discrimination that needs to be fixed promptly, but we are debating other pieces of legislation dealing with discrimination that were tabled four months ago. In those four months a number of amendments were put forward because we discovered that we had not got it right in the first instance. We needed that time to bring forth those amendments to make sure that, when we are removing discrimination, we are doing it the right way and we are doing it the right way first time.

So I support the referral of this matter to the Administration and Procedure Committee because I believe it is an important issue that is broader in scope than just a woman sitting in this chamber with a child, breastfeeding. They have work to do in committees and every staff member in this chamber has a situation that needs to be explored in terms of a work friendly environment. I think it is important for the Administration and Procedure Committee to examine that.


(11.24): I think I understand the intent of Mrs Cross's motion today

Mr Stanhope

: Yes-that women should be allowed to breastfeed in the chamber.


: Order, Chief Minister!


: You'll get your turn, Mr Stanhope. However, I am disappointed that this matter has been raised in the house today. I am concerned that, whilst it may be an issue in other ordinary workplaces, I do not think that houses of parliament or houses of assembly and the like are what could be classed as ordinary working places.

I am further concerned that we are here talking about this matter when I believe it should have been directly referred to Administration and Procedure for their consideration. That is why I am appreciative of Mrs Tucker's amendment today. Why are we therefore wasting precious ACT taxpayers' money on giving this issue time at all, when there is a committee fully equipped and very competent to deal with the matter in a careful and considered manner? I am not saying the matter is not worthy of discussion.

Breastfeeding, in my personal opinion, is one of the most natural and important functions of a woman for her baby. I breastfed my daughter, and I am fully supportive of breastfeeding. However this issue is not about breastfeeding per se; it is about the protocol and according the appropriateness of such an activity in this place.

It is about the obvious distractions that occur. With breastfeeding we know that we have to burp a baby, and a baby could be sick. I am just thinking of the practical issues. I am concerned that we will set a precedent for other activities to occur in this place. Do we then allow toddlers to run around and play quietly by our side with toys? It is an issue, as Ms Dundas says. I totally agree that we need to look at it and that it needs to be addressed as a whole-but not in this place. It is for a perfectly set up committee to decide.

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