New Rule Allows Breastfeeding in Australian Parliament

April 8, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. ruling / ˈru lɪŋ / (n.) – an official decision by an authorized person about something being debated or questioned
Example: The judge announced his ruling about the controversial law.

2. chamber / ˈtʃeɪm bər / (n.) – a large private room where lawmakers meet
Example: The chamber had a semi-circular layout so everyone can see the speaker.

3. expectant / ɪkˈspɛk tənt / (adj.) – referring to people who are expecting the birth of a child
Example: The expectant parents are shopping for baby clothes.

4. technically / ˈteknɪkəli / (adv.) – strictly following an exact explanation of something (e.g. law, rule, fact, etc.)
Example: According to the law, someone who is not elected into the congress is technically a “stranger.”

5. escort / ɪˈskɔrt / (v.) – to accompany or guide another person
Example: The guards escorted the man who was causing trouble out of the building.


Read the text below.
A new ruling now allows members of the Australian Parliament [PAR-luh-ment] to breastfeed their children in the chamber.

Breastfeeding used to be allowed only in offices, family lounges, or in breastfeeding rooms in the Parliament House. The decision to consider allowing breastfeeding in the chamber was due to the high number of expectant mothers among the assembly members last year.

Aside from breastfeeding mothers, the rule also covers other parents who need to care for their young children. Christopher Pyne, the Leader of the House, said that no male or female member will ever be prevented from participating fully in the Parliament because of having to take care of a baby.

Previously, children were not allowed to sit among members of the Parliament because they were not elected members and were technically considered “strangers.” This rule was considered outdated by many and was met with various criticisms.

Through the years, there have been many instances of young children being escorted out of the chamber, or mothers being asked to feed their babies elsewhere. One controversial case is the story of Kristie Marshall in 2003. She was asked to leave the chamber while breastfeeding her daughter. This was allegedly because the ten-day-old baby was considered a “stranger” by the Parliament.

Marshall, who was newly elected then, said that she was not trying to make a statement about breastfeeding, and that she was just unaware of the rule banning her child from the Parliament prior to the incident. However, her experience sparked debates and contributed to the reconsideration of the rules on bringing children to assemblies.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Give some possible positive and negative outcomes of the new ruling on breastfeeding.
·         If you were a member of the Parliament and a colleague brought his or her young child in the chamber, how would you feel?

Discussion B

·         How can parents make time for their children despite having busy schedules?
·         How would a young child be affected by receiving little time and attention from his/her parents?

April 8, 2016