How many of you take your kids to work? I sure there are some but not many. It is not something that normally happens. You are at work to do your job, not look after your children. I am sure there are some parents who have their kids visit work at some time to see where mum or dad work, and while most bosses probably don’t mind, I bet they would if it interrupted the operations of the workplace or broke long established workplace rules.
Well in the Australian Federal Parliament this week one parent thought she would give bringing her child to work a go.
Sarah Hanson-Young, a Greens Senator in the Australian Federal Parliament, bought her two year old daughter, Kora, into the Senate chamber during a division. A well known rule of the Senate is that no strangers are allowed in the chamber during divisions. Well no matter which way you want to put it, children are strangers in the senate and do not belong there at certain times. That is it. It is a rule of the workplace so why knowingly break it?
Of course the Senate President, Senator John Hogg, had no real choice but to instruct Senator Hanson Young to have her daughter removed from the chamber. This is a rule of this workplace and it is also a place where decisions are being made that affect all Australians. This is no place for children.
Senator Hanson-Young was not very happy with this action saying “The way this was handled was a mistake.” Well yes Sarah it was a mistake. You should not have taken your daughter to the chamber at this time. You know this, or at least you should.
There are plenty of other times that I am sure members of parliament can take their children on a little tour of their workplace. The Australian Parliament does not sit every day and one of these many non sitting days would be a great time to take Kora to have a look at where Mummy works. No one will be bothered. No rules will be broken. No one will get upset. Yes the ensuing hassle did upset the poor little girl who could reportedly be heard crying from the senate chamber during the division.
Greens Leader, Senator Bob Brown, said “I don’t know of any employer that’s going to say you can’t have five minutes with your child.” Yes you may be right Bob. There probably aren’t many who, if your family turned up to say hello would be happy for you to say a quick hello and then get back to work. I am also quite sure they would not be very happy if you bought them into an important meeting, or onto the factory floor or did anything else to disrupt the workplace or broke workplace rules.
Well this is exactly what happened in this situation. The workplace was disrupted and rules were broken.
NSW opposition spokeswoman Pru Goward, a former sex discrimination commissioner, told ABC radio that children in workplaces can be “very distracting”.
Yes that is right they can. That is why people don’t normally take their children to work.
Senator Brown said this morning that Kora had provided a “pleasant diversion” for those nearby after a hard week. Senator Brown, You are involved in important work here. Save your “diversions” for when the work is done, please.
There is also a childcare centre about 500 metres from the Senate Chamber. It is a very nice childcare centre and would have been a wholly better place to leave Kora whilst important work was taking place in the chamber.
Senator Hanson-Young was accused of using her daughter in a parliamentary stunt. Of course she denies this and I am willing to believe her as I would hate to think that any parent would use their child in such a pointless stunt.
The Senate is due to debate on this issue on Monday. This is a terrible waste of parliamentary time and hopefully commonsense will prevail and it will be made clear that children do not belong at work when work is supposed to be done.
Hopefully all members of parliament will make sure they are aware of the rules and do their best to abide by them so that no undue disruption occurs in the future.
And Sarah. I hope you have learnt from your “mistake” and this doesn’t happen again. After all you were elected to do your job as a Senator, not to amuse your sweet little girl during important meetings. You will also be able to avoid a repeat of the “most humilating moment of your life.”