Parliament's new Speaker Trevor Mallard shared his exalted seat tonight with baby Heeni, the 3-month-old daughter of Labour MP Willow-Jean Prime, while the House debated extending paid parental leave legislation.

Mallard held Heeni in his lap as Members of Parliament debated the first reading of the Paid Leave and Employment Protection Amendment Bill - Labour's legislation to extend paid parental leave.

After being elected Speaker yesterday Mallard noted the gurgles of babies in the public galleries above the debating chamber, and said one of his goals would be to make Parliament a more family-friendly environment.

Prime earlier breastfed her daughter in Parliament's debating chamber and said it made a difference to be able to take Heeni into debates.


"Heeni is only 3 months old. So she is following me around at the moment because I am her mama, I am her main food supply," Prime said.

She hoped her breastfeeding in the House would help send a message to other parents.

"Parliament is trying to accommodate me and other parents, so we don't have to choose between careers and families. I see it as role-modelling and setting an example."

Prime, a Northland-based list MP who entered Parliament after September's election, said it made a difference to have her daughter with her. Her husband and mother have also been at Parliament when possible, to help.

"It means I can actually do this job. And also have a family - raise a family. And at this important time in my baby's life it means I can be there for her, to provide her with what she needs. But also to be here representing my communities in the House of Representatives.

"[In] many families, both parents are working. I'm so pleased that tonight we are going to look at extending paid parental leave. That will make a huge difference to working families."

In May Australian Senator Larissa Waters became the first to breastfeed in Australia's Parliament.