Labor Shadow Minister for Early Education, Kate Ellis, has announced her decision to leave parliament at the next election. The Australian reported her reasons:
‘In a letter sent to constituents today, Ms Ellis said one of the principal reasons for leaving is the age of her young son, who will start primary school during the next term of parliament.
“I have made this decision for one simple reason: I cannot bear the thought of spending at least 20 weeks of every year in Canberra away from my son, who will be starting school in the next term of Parliament, and from the rest of my family,” she said.
“This has been a very difficult decision for me because I believe Bill Shorten and Labor can and should win the next election. I would love to be able to play a key role in a federal government focussed on the needs of the Australian public and working to improve our amazing country.
“Ultimately, we all have to make choices and I know that regularly missing things like my son’s first day at school, his first sporting match, or even just tucking him in at night or being there when he is sick and wants his mum, would make me absolutely miserable.
“I am grateful that I have had the chance to work in such an amazing job for as long as I have, and for the faith our community has placed in me.”‘
Many people have applauded her decision, saying she has acted for the right motives. It is natural for a mother to give priority to her child. Her decision is particularly admirable because it is agreed that she is an able Labor member of parliament and would have an assured place in a Labor ministry.
Less admirable is her swipe at former prime minister John Howard for stating the obvious about mothers faced with the choice of keeping a demanding job or giving the care to their child that is warranted by their having them.
‘Kate Ellis…has hit out at former Prime Minister John Howard as she announced her departure from federal politics.
‘Last year Mr Howard said federal parliament will never see an equal representation of women and men because “women play a significantly greater part of fulfilling the caring role”.
‘“I think that is absolute rubbish,” she said.’
The reasons for her decision contradict that dismissive judgement.
It might be appropriate to bring up an opinion Tony Abbott expressed during his time as a student at Sydney University – an opinion that has earned the unremitting rage and enmity of people like Kate Ellis. He said:
‘It would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitude, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons.’