A newly-elected district councillor plans to take her baby to meetings because the available subsidies exclude childcare.
Hurunui District councillor Julia McLean said juggling council responsibilities with caring for a 6-month-old, 4-year-old and 7-year-old put her “on the back foot from the start”.
She wrote to the Remuneration Authority (RMA) asking for council expense policies to be brought into “modern times”.
As well as councillors’ salaries, the RMA covered cellphone and internet use and mileage, but there was nothing for childcare.
McLean, 33, said it may explain why more women, especially mothers, were not involved in local body governance despite the number of decisions that affected families.
“I’ve been elected as an equal, but I’m not being treated as one”.
McLean had no immediate family in Canterbury. Her partner worked full time, Monday to Friday. While her older children were covered under the 20 hours free early childcare programme, her 6-month-old and the school holidays were a problem.
She was required to attend an eight-hour council meeting every Thursday, as well as reading and preparation. She has fielded calls to sit on advisory boards.
After taking childcare costs out of her $20,000 salary, there would be little left, she said.
This doesn’t quite add up. As I understand it a day of childcare is around $35 so childcare for the six month old for one day a week would be around $1,700 a year. The older kids are at school or get the 20 free hours a week.