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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 19 November 2015) . . Page.. 4235 ..

to stop feeding because it is not actually vitally necessary for that to happen in order for the parliament to continue to function and for that woman to be able to vote.

Here in the ACT we have great representation of women in the Assembly. We have seven women and 10 men. However, in order to continue to attract more women and more mothers to represent their communities, and women who want to be mothers to represent their communities, and to participate in politics and other workplaces, it is vital that we continue to remove barriers that might hinder them.

We need to continually adapt old systems which were set up for men to truly accommodate the realities of women’s multifaceted lives. When the standing orders were written for the House of Representatives and notions such as “strangers in the chamber” were defined, there was not any thought given to breastfed babies. Breastfeeding women were not considered. Breastfeeding was thought to be a private matter, and that women would do so cloistered in their homes. Life after birth was much restricted and women politicians were not really even thought of.

When Dame Enid Lyons was elected to our federal House of Representatives there were not even toilets for women. They had to adapt one of the men’s toilets and put “wo” in front of it, and it was located only at one end of the parliament. So there has been a lot of change, and there needs to be more.

We should not settle for near enough being good enough. This means initial changes are not always the final changes, and we cannot just say, “That’s good enough.” Let us get the details right. If a proxy system can work in the federal chamber then it should be able to work here. We should value women as they are and not expect them to go through unnecessary distress. It leaves us all poorer when women are torn between their responsibilities and when we do not have systems that support them. We need to show that we truly value mothers and babies and our future here in the ACT by making changes that recognise the real lives of women and babies.

Babies are a normal, basic, natural and much desired part of many women’s lives. Many would be surprised that we are still sorting this out. However, we must. Here in the ACT let us lead the way by making our Assembly reasonable, better and more friendly for our working, breastfeeding mothers, and all women, all parents and all families will benefit, so that when we tell our daughters that they can aspire to any job in any field of work that they want, we really mean it by our actions, not just by our words.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Community Services, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister for Women and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Social Inclusion and Equality) (12.05): I wish to speak to this motion, and I also wish to move an amendment which has been circulated in my name:

“(1) notes:

(a) the ACT Government’s commitment to breastfeeding friendly work and community places through both legislation and policy initiatives; and

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