Santa baby

Jacinda Ardern & Kiri Allan

It was always going to happen.  Now that we have a Prime Minister with a new baby, it seems it is time to make Parliament more ‘family friendly’. The Herald reports: Quote:

One of Parliament’s new parents, Kiri Allen, has argued for a cap on taxpayer-funded travel for MPs’ partners to be lifted for those with young babies.

While MPs’ partners used to be allowed unlimited travel to be with the MP, the so-called “perk” was cut back in 2014 after excessive use by some.

The cap does not apply to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s partner Clarke Gayford, who will be primary caregiver for baby Neve, because the Prime Minister’s partner gets unlimited travel. End quote.

And so she should. She is the prime minister after all. Although, it appears that special arrangements have been made for baby Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford to travel with her mother and not be checked at airports. I wonder if this might apply to children of other current MPs? Although, it probably shouldn’t. It certainly never applied to the children of John Key or Bill English. Quote:

The partners of ordinary MPs get 20 trips a year maximum while ministers’ partners get 30 trips a year. The caps are set by the Remuneration Authority and can only be used to accompany MPs on work-related travel. End quote.

This is not merely state-funded travel for MPs. They already have that. This is state-funded travel for MPs’ partners, to travel with the MPs on parliamentary business. They do get 20 trips a year, which is more than one a month. That is plenty. They want more than that. Can I quote my fellow writer, Suze, when I say – “Have sex and travel”? Quote:

Allan, mother to a 10-month-old, raised the issue when speaking as a new mother and MP at a conference of Speakers and Clerks from Australia and the Pacific Islands.

Allen said the cap was difficult when her baby was less than six months old as it restricted her partner and baby to visiting Wellington only once every six weeks at a time the family wanted to spend as much time together as possible. End quote.

Obviously, maths is not her strong point. 20 visits a year is more than one a month, not one every 6 weeks. That would only be about 8 per year. Can I get you a calculator?

I know this is a novel idea to these people, but – have you ever considered that you could pay for your own travel? Or your partner could? That is what we do in the private sector. Why is that idea so terrible?

Also, let’s think about this. The baby is 10 months old. She was born at the end of August last year. Right in the middle of the election campaign. Did it not occur to her maybe to take a break from politics, because the baby needed her mother when she was so young, and then come back when the baby was a bit older? It appears not.

Going back to August 2017, here is an article from The Spinoff which features Kiri Allen shortly after her baby was born. Quote:

Having a newborn changes the campaign game a bit. Well, a lot actually. In the first week after she was born, I had to go away for four nights. It was the toughest time I’ve had on the campaign. While Snapchat, Viber and Facetime are useful tools, there’s nothing like cuddles with that soft little face squished into yours, or undertaking your share of the parenting duties and relieving the other parent for nappy changes during the long nights. Being the family that we are, we try to do it all. At eight days old, baby attended her first political meeting, a First Union Rūnanga and Fono meeting. End quote.

Dragging an 8-day old baby around after you in an election campaign, just when she should be tucked up at home, being nursed, changed, kept warm and made to feel secure, is disgraceful. It is one thing to say that it takes a village to bring up a child. It is quite another to constantly palm her off on others, while you deal with things that you clearly think are more important than your newborn.

And that is it, really. The rest of us make compromises when we have children. The rest of us, including Jacinda Ardern, recognise the importance of bonding time with a new baby. But Kiri Allen doesn’t. She thinks it is better to see ‘that soft little face’ on Skype, rather than behave like a responsible mother.

This is where pushing for a 50% quota of female politicians, board members and local councillors is going to lead us. They are just going to demand more money from the public purse to fund their family time but they are not doing their family time well. Babies need to be nurtured in secure environments, not carted around the place like a set of golf clubs. Parliament is no place for babies.

As a taxpayer, I am not prepared to put up with it. Look after your own children. Do a decent job. The rest of us who don’t have access to the public purse do the best we can. You just think we should all pay for the privilege of you doing what we had to pay for ourselves. You are wrong. We don’t have to pay for that. Your baby, your responsibility.


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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

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