The Opposition in the state of West Australia is to introduce legislation to protect breastfeeding mothers against discrimination. The bill will give breastfeeding mothers legal rights under the Equal Opportunities Act.
Labor MP and Shadow Women's Interests minister Michelle Roberts is to move the bill in the state parliament. She said every state in Australia had legislation protecting breastfeeding mothers from discrimination, except for South Australia, which was drafting new legislation.
AdvertisementThe action comes after a breastfeeding woman was asked to leave a restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Hotel recently.
She told ABC News, "It's not something by which women should be discriminated against or feel uncomfortable in any way.
"Breastfeeding is of course the best way, if it's possible to feed an infant, and it is possible for nearly all women to be able to breast feed.
"It's something that needs to be encouraged. Disturbingly, over the last 10 years, the rate of breast feeding in the community has fallen quite dramatically."
Initially Premier Colin Barnett's response was that more common sense and courtesy were needed, rather than laws.
But the Labour MP retaliated, saying, "The Premier has refused to recognise that breastfeeding mothers need protection under the law.
"It is not enough to simply ask mothers to be discrete and to ask establishments to accommodate them. They need something more concrete."
Subsequently the Minister for Child Protection, Robyn McSweeney, said she agreed with the sentiment of the bill.
"I certainly agree with the philosophy that a mother can breast feed whenever and wherever she wants," she said.
"It's a perfectly natural event. A baby needs a feed and it doesn't care where it is and nor should anybody else.
"But having said that, I'm prepared to look at the legislation and I know that the attorney general has come out and said he's prepared to look at the legislation."
Mother-of-three, Georgina Ker, who organised a sit-in for breastfeeding mothers at the Premier's office last week, said she was pleased the Opposition were supportive of the cause.
"It's hard enough for mums to breastfeed and to be parents really, in today's society without having to worry about whether we're going to be asked to leave a restaurant," Ms Ker said.
"Hopefully it will give mums the confidence to know that choosing to breastfeed won't interfere with their life."
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