Tasmanian Liberals

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Changes to the House of Assembly Standing Orders tabled today are an important step towards modernising the Parliament by recognising a woman’s right to resume their career at a time they choose and to enable them to fully participate in the workforce.
As Tasmania’s first female Speaker, I am proud to have led this push to modernise the Parliament and I hope it encourages more women to consider a career in politics in the future.
Under current rules dating back over a century that didn’t contemplate female members, the House was strictly reserved for elected members only. This means a nursing mother is unable to enter the chamber to vote or participate in debates at short notice without an accompanying infant being declared a “stranger in the House” and ordered to leave.
More than 60 years after a female MP was first elected to the House of Assembly in Tasmania, proposed changes to our House’s Standing Orders will remove this outdated categorisation for a child under 12 months of age, allowing a nursing mother to enter into and to participate in the proceedings of the House free from discrimination.
Importantly, existing provisions still remain allowing the Speaker to maintain control over the Chamber at all times. In the unlikely event an infant becomes disruptive, the member also has the option of a “pair” to ensure they are not disadvantaged during a vote.
A final recommendation being put forward is the automatic entitlement of a member to 12 weeks maternity leave without needing the formal consent of the House. Under current rules, members can be held guilty of contempt if they are absent for more than 14 days without this consent.
These changes go further than any other Australian jurisdiction, providing a range of options to female parliamentarians returning to work in the House of Assembly.
This is a serious and necessary step to address the current barriers preventing women from fully participating in the workforce once they enter politics.