Councillor will take baby to meetings if childcare not covered

Julia McLean wrote an open letter asking why the authority was "unwilling" to cover childcare costs associated with Council business. Photo / 123rf
Julia McLean wrote an open letter asking why the authority was "unwilling" to cover childcare costs associated with Council business. Photo / 123rf

A newly-elected Hurunui District councillor is making waves after pledging to take her baby with her to meetings if her childcare costs are not subsidised.

Julia McLean, 33, wrote an open letter to the Remuneration Authority Thursday, asking why the authority was "unwilling" to cover childcare costs associated with Council business.

She asked the RA's chairwoman Fran Wilde to rethink the current expense policy to bring it into "modern times".

McLean, a mother of three with a 6-month-old baby, said she was "determined to make this stunning part of New Zealand an even better place to live".

"I am really excited about my new role but I do have one major hesitation ... it seems it is going to hit me in the wallet," she said.

Under its expense policy the RA agreed to reimburse cellphone and internet usage, as well as mileage for councillors to get to and from meetings, so why would it not assist with childcare, she asked.

McLean said although the job paid just over $19,000 a year, childcare would use a significant chunk of that.

"If I take my childcare expenses out of that, there'll be little left.

"I didn't put my hand up for this job to become rich, but I also didn't expect it to cost me."

She then questioned whether the issue of childcare was why more women weren't involved in local body politics.

McLean, whose husband worked full-time Monday to Friday and who had no immediate family in Canterbury, told Fairfax if the RA didn't reimburse her for childcare, she would take her baby to meetings.

The council needed to understand how childcare worked, she said.

"Council meetings don't stop in the holidays."

Her role with the council required her to attend an eight-hour meeting every Thursday, as well as reading and preparation.

"I've been elected as an equal, but I'm not being treated as one," she said.

However Wilde said the RA could not change the rules for just one person.

If there was a huge demand for change, they would consider it, Wilde told Fairfax.

- NZ Herald

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