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‘Child in chamber’ causes stink

The ejection of a two-year old girl from the Senate has sparked calls for century-old parliamentary procedures to be modernised so they are more parent friendly.

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Australian Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young was forced to hand her daughter, Kora, to a staffer on Thursday night on the orders of Senate president John Hogg.

The child was heard crying as her mother and other senators gathered behind locked doors for a vote, a situation the senator described as the “most humiliating” of her life.

Breast-feeding stauch

World champion aerial skier turned Victorian state Labor MP Kirstie Marshall said Senator Hanson-Young had every right to feel outraged.

Ms Marshall was asked to leave the Victorian parliament in 2003 because she was breastfeeding her 11-day-old daughter Charlotte.

“She was required in her capacity in her job as a senator to vote, therefore she was being denied that opportunity based on the fact she had some responsibilities as a parent,” Ms Marshall told AAP on Friday.

“I think it’s just ludicrous.”

Australian Greens leader Bob Brown has called for parents to be allowed to bring their children into the Senate during a voting division.

“We need to change … the standing orders just to make life a little more parent friendly when there’s not going to be disruptions,” Senator Brown told reporters in Canberra, adding he had a “good, long talk” with Senator Hogg.

Goward backs Hogg

But former sex discrimination commissioner turned NSW Liberal Party frontbencher Pru Goward said Senator Hanson-Young would have been better off leaving the child with a staffer.

“If you promise a little girl that she can come in with you and you run down there with her in your arms and then at the last minute because you actually didn’t check, the child is taken away from you and she cries, nobody can really be surprised,” she told ABC Radio.

Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce said the incident was a stunt that could have been avoided.

“If it was from a party that never effected stunts, you’d say ‘well, maybe it was a one-off’, but this is a party that is known for its stunts,” Senator Joyce told reporters in Canberra.

Breast-feeding amendments

Senator Hanson-Young said the incident was not a stunt, saying she had previously brought Kora into the chamber.

“I’d just like anyone suggesting that … to reflect on what actually happened,” she told ABC Television.

But she said did not blame Senator Hogg.

“He followed the rule book,” she said, adding she would raise the issue with him on Monday when the Senate resumed.

Parliamentary procedures were changed in February last year to allow female MPs in the House of Representatives to cast parliamentary votes via the whip if they needed to leave the chamber to breastfeed.

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