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Senator denies baby removal a stunt

The senator who’s at the centre of a parliamentary debate after her toddler was forcibly removed from parliament denies the incident was a stunt.

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The two-year-old daughter of Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young was taken from her hands on the orders of Labour’s Senate president John Hogg yesterday.

As the child named Kora was taken from her mother’s arms by a staffer, she became distressed and cried loudly.

Her wails were still audible after the chamber doors were locked.

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt so humiliated in my life,” says Senator Hanson-Young.

“What upset me the most was seeing her (Kora) being upset and not knowing who I was going to hand her to on the other side of the door.”

Calls for rules to be changed

The incident has caused debate in parliament today about whether infants should be allowed in parliament.

Greens leader Bob Brown strongly objected to the removal of the child and Family First Senator Steve Fielding says the matter could have been handled better.

Senator Brown said he had a “good, long talk” with Senator Hogg, adding some good will come out of the incident.

The Senate president Hogg says he was following the relevant order governing who should be in the chamber.

But he later admitted that the situation could have been dealt with better saying a procedure committee “will help ensure these matters are able to be better handled in the future.”

‘Unsurprising’ that the baby cried

The NSW Opposition spokeswoman for women Pru Goward says she believes Senator Hanson-Young might have expected what the result would be by taking her child into the chamber.

Ms Goward, a former sex discrimination commissioner, says the senator had a staff member nearby who could take the child.

“I think 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.

“This really says to me that there should be some laws about this so there are no unexpected situations that arise, so that the senators and the staff all know what’s expected,” Ms Goward says.

“I think children in workplaces can be very distracting and I would have thought on this occasion it would have been just as easy to have left the child with the staffer.”

“When you put people into dramatic situations don’t be surprised when they cry.”

But Senator Hanson-Young has defended her actions saying that she had taken Kora into the chamber on previous occasions.

She says she took her daughter Kora into the chamber for a vote yesterday evening because they were about to be separated for 24 hours, with the baby flying to Adelaide to be with her dad.

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