MP advised to express to avoid breastfeeding disruption

Liberal MP and new mum Kelly O’Dwyer was advised to express more breast milk so that breastfeeding her new baby would not interfere with her parliamentary duties.

The office of the government’s Chief Whip Scott Buchholz made the suggestion before consulting his Labor counterpart to determine the best way to deal with breastfeeding MPs in accordance with the standing orders.

Under the orders, which govern behaviour of MPs in the chamber, breastfeeding mothers are given a proxy vote in the Parliament, meaning their vote is counted even though they’re not present in the chamber. 

Prior to consultation with the opposition’s Chief Whip, Chris Hayes, Buchholz was unaware of the allowances made for new mums.

The advice was given after Ms O’Dwyer was unable to attend a division and a speaking duty as she had recently started breastfeeding.

The proxy vote for breastfeeding MPs was introduced seven years ago when Labor health spokeswoman Catherine King’s baby was born.

The Age newspaper reports that while the pair have resolved the issue, Ms O’Dwyer was displeased with the suggestion to express more milk for her daughter Olivia, who was born in May.


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