Tanya Plibersek opens up about when the fate of the government hung on her ...

Tanya Plibersek opens up about when the fate of the government hung on her ...
Tanya Plibersek opens up about when the fate of the government hung on her ...

From being one of the youngest MPs in parliament when she was first elected aged 28 in 1998, Tanya Plibersek is now the longest serving female MP in the lower house. 

After more than 23 years as the MP for Sydney, Ms Plibersek recalls how in 2010 she feared the due date of her third child, Louis, would cause Labor to lose power. 

Opposition leader Tony Abbott would not say if he would give her a 'pair' - a process that means one party cannot take advantage of the unavoidable absence of someone from another party.

Australia's government was on a knife-edge for 17 days after the August 21 election resulted in a hung parliament with independents to decide the winner. 

When Tanya Plibersek (pictured) was pregnant with her third child in 2010, it made national headlines due to the possibility that Tony Abbott would use the birth to his advantage in a vote in parliament

When Tanya Plibersek (pictured) was pregnant with her third child in 2010, it made national headlines due to the possibility that Tony Abbott would use the birth to his advantage in a vote in parliament

Three independent MPs and the Greens' Adam Bandt sided with Labor, giving Julid Gillard another term by one seat, but Ms Plibersek worried her absence would derail this razor thin majority.

'It was really weighing on me that if I couldn't get a pair, it might be my fault that we couldn't form government,' she told the Daily Telegraph.

She stayed in Canberra, rather than returning home to Sydney, up until the day before the birth.

'I think maybe we got sworn in on the Monday or the Tuesday, parliament sat on the Wednesday, I went home on the Thursday and I had my baby on Friday,' she said. 

The media went into overdrive speculating what effect her pregnancy, birth, and maternity leave could have on the election outcome.

Headlines included claims parliament was being 'controlled by a baby' and that the child was 'carrying the weight of a nation'.

After a public outcry, the Liberal-National Coalition eventually agreed to give her a pair, but she was back in parliament three weeks later.  

What is a 'pair' in politics 

 Pairing is an informal arrangement between the government and opposition parties whereby a member of a legislative body agrees or is designated by the party to be absent from the chamber or to abstain from voting when a member of the other party needs to be absent from the chamber due to other commitments such as illness or travel problems.

 Source: Wikipedia

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Ms Plibersek said the experience was a reminder that

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