News National Parliamentary sitting weeks should be reduced, MP says

Parliamentary sitting weeks should be reduced, MP says

kate ellis
Ms Ellis says she wants to spend more time with her family. Photo: AAP
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Liberal MP Alex Hawke has called for fewer sitting weeks in Federal Parliament to allow MPs to spend more time with their families and less time in Canberra.

Mr Hawke’s comments follow Labor frontbencher Kate Ellis’s announcement that she will leave politics at the next election so she can spend more time with her young son.

Mr Hawke told Lateline it was time for Federal Parliament to modernise and be more productive.

“There are practices in Parliament which are archaic. We do not need 20 weeks of sittings in a year,” he said.

“We can do more work in less weeks in Canberra.”

He said it was up to the younger generation of parliamentarians to push for change and there should be a bipartisan approach.

“I think it is incumbent on us as younger members of Parliament, the new generation, that we look at modernising the Parliament like we modernise our business workplaces,” he said.

‘It is tough on everybody’

Mr Hawke said that as a father of young children he felt for Ms Ellis.

“Kate and I do not share a lot politically and we never have, but seeing what she would have gone through to make that decision — travelling to Canberra 20 weeks a year, away from your family — it can be a big burden,” he said.

“I know that Kate went out of the way today to say that her decision, which was about her family, is not about women or women not being able to do it and she wanted to make that very clear, and I will stick up for her on that.

“It is tough on everybody.”

Ms Ellis is the Member for Adelaide and Labor’s spokeswoman for Early Childhood and Development.

“I feel like, honestly, I still have much more to give,” she said.

“But during the next parliamentary term, [my son will] start school and he’ll need to be in Adelaide. And I will need to be in Canberra if I’m the member for Adelaide.”