Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (13 March) . . Page.. 1013 ..
almost inalienable right of women to choose to breastfeed their babies in their workplace. It is an almost inalienable right in terms of our understanding of the importance of breastfeeding. Yet the Liberal Party, the Greens and the Democrats are saying that this issue needs to be further considered; that we need to consult further on whether working women should have the right to breastfeed in their place of work.
What is it that you want to further consider? What is it that you want to weigh up on the scales of whether or not working women in their place of work should be entitled to breastfeed their children? It is such a simple, straightforward notion. You either support it or you do not. One has to assume that those who cannot stand here today and support it do not support it; that they have concerns about this right of working women to care for and nurture their children in the way of their choosing.
That is all Mrs Cross is seeking to achieve-for this parliament to say in its operational rules that there should be no prohibition against the feeding by breast of children in a working woman's place of work. It is such a simple notion. Why would this parliament send a signal that it is not a right that we as a parliament are prepared to allow without some deeper community consultation. I cannot imagine what form that consultation would take.
Should we as a parliament, as a workplace, not allow women to breastfeed? I am prepared to stand here now and say that I cannot countenance the prospect that we as a workplace would deny working women in this place the right to breastfeed in this chamber. I cannot countenance the possibility, and I cannot imagine what the motives of those who do are. What is there to further consider? Why can the 17 members of this place not say here and now, "Yes, women should be able to breastfeed in this place, so let us change our operational procedures, our standing orders, to ensure that that can happen"?
MS TUCKER(11.36): I seek leave to speak again.
MS TUCKER: I need to answer some of Mr Stanhope's questions on my amendment. Maybe he was not here before-I am not sure.
Mr Stanhope: Yes, I was.
MS TUCKER: You asked what the doubts were. I thought I had explained them, but maybe you were not satisfied with the explanation.
Mr Stanhope seems to imply that by asking for this matter to go to the Administration and Procedure Committee we are sending a signal to the community that it is not all right to breastfeed in the workplace. That is certainly not my intention. I thought I made it clear at the beginning of my speech that I am of the view that breastfeeding in the workplace is a right.
I am concerned about rushing this motion through. I have not had a chance to look at the words. Mr Stanhope now has to amend the words because they are not correct or are very unclear. There are issues that need to be talked about in the committee-the definition of