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Bringing up baby: New Zealand speaker makes parliament more parent-friendly

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By Reuters 

As New Zealand lawmakers vigorously debated fuel prices in parliament this week, speaker Trevor Mallard called for order while feeding baby Tūtānekai his bottle.

Screenshot from a Parliament broadcast of New Zealand Speaker Trevor Mallard feeding a Member of Parliament’s baby during a parliamentary session in Wellington August 21, 2019. (New Zealand Parliament and Speaker's Office / Handout via REUTERS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Screenshot from a Parliament broadcast of New Zealand Speaker Trevor Mallard feeding a Member of Parliament’s baby during a parliamentary session in Wellington August 21, 2019. (New Zealand Parliament and Speaker’s Office / Handout via REUTERS / MANILA BULLETIN)

The six-week-old son of Labour MP Tāmati Coffey and his husband, born via a surrogate mother last month, was being cuddled by his father in the debating chamber on Wednesday when the speaker offered to hold him.

“There are times when I can be vaguely useful,” Mallard told Reuters, adding that he tried to help care for lawmakers’ babies when possible.

The newborn joins many other babies in the legislature after Mallard relaxed rules in 2017 to make parliament more child-friendly.

About a dozen MPs have had infants in a parliamentary baby boom, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last year became New Zealand’s first premier to take maternity leave and the world’s second elected leader to give birth in office.

Her daughter Neve Te Aroha made headlines in September when she accompanied Ardern to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

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