Councillor calls for childcare subsides

Councillor calls for childcare subsides

A Cantabrian councillor has questioned why childcare subsides aren't offered to councillors with children, and is considering bringing her six-month-old son to meetings to save money.

Hurunui District Councillor Julia McLean says she is struggling to understand why childcare isn't seen as a legitimate expense.

"Cellphone, mileage, internet is seen as an expense that they will cover but childcare cost isn't," she says.

"And yet to attend council business I need to absorb that expense."

Ms McLean wrote to the Remuneration Authority (RA) to ask why childcare costs weren't subsidised.

She says she has received advice that childcare costs should be within the authority's framework. 

The RA has not responded to requests for comment.

Ms McLean has considered taking her son to work with her.

"It's good for him...he's an easy kid and if an eight-hour meeting and childcare costs are hurting me in the pocket then it's kind of a no-brainer if it works for the time being.

"Long term it's probably not the most ideal situation and I'll have to foot that bill."

Ms McLean voiced her concern over whether other women may be put off running for council.

"The fact we don't have very many women, mothers around the local council tables, is this one of the reasons why?

"It's an expense for all women. You have to weigh up whether it's worth leaving your gate and [paying] childcare costs - obviously it's generated a lot of debate."

She says the childcare issue won't stop her from doing her job over the next three years - she just wanted to highlight the issue and get the discussion going.

"I had lots of hugs, well wishes and 'good on ya Jules' [from the community] but I've also seen some of the criticism and that's what I just want to remind people is that this is about trying to make representation in our community fairer and if one section of our community is potentially not being engaged with because of this expense then can we do things better?" she asks.

"I didn't get into this game to get rich, but I didn't expect it to cost me personally."

Ms McLean was elected into the Amberley seat of the Hurunui District Council receiving the most votes - she beat her nearest rival by 65 votes.

The swearing-in of the local council will be held later this month.