Busy mother of three Anja Gray, of Alstonville, with her children (from left) Sarah, 3, Liam, 6, and Lachlan, 7.
Busy mother of three Anja Gray, of Alstonville, with her children (from left) Sarah, 3, Liam, 6, and Lachlan, 7.

Heffernan comment under fire

By HELEN JACK

NSW senator Bill Heffernan's comments about motherhood have women on the Far North Coast thinking the man is out of touch, if not just plain silly.

Alstonville mother of three Anja Gray was disgusted. "To have someone say that is like having a stake in someone's heart and then twisting it," she said.

"Having children is a personal choice but sometimes women just don't get the chance to choose."

Senator Heffernan created a furore when he claimed Ms Gillard's decision not to have children made her unfit for political leadership.

Mrs Gray said she does not regret her decision to stay home with the kids instead of pursuing her career as a pre-school teacher.

"I just never liked handing my children to someone else to mind (while she went to work)," she said.

After working three days a week, Mrs Gray soon discovered that once childminding expenses were deducted and without the government's child allowance, it was not economical for her to continue working.

"It ended up I was only bringing home $75," Mrs Gray said.

"And in my mind my children are better off for it because they don't suffer that separation anxiety any more." But while Mrs Gray may be at home, she is never idle.

Her day is taken up with volunteering at Wollongbar Public School, co-ordinating Alstonville's Baptist Children's Ministry or co-ordinating a local Mothers of Pre-Schoolers group at her church hall.

And Mrs Gray thinks you don't have to have children to run the country. "As long as they do their job properly I do not see the difference," she said. "Having children makes you look at things in relation to children but if you did not have children you would get parents' input, you do the research and hopefully that is what she does." The Northern Rivers Writers Centre and Byron Bay Writers Festival director Jeni Caffin said her choice to remain childless was a responsible one and that her desire for career and adventure would have put her children at a disadvantage. "I have always worked in positions in management and work extremely long hours and that is my way to give back to the world and community and to other people," she said. "I have what I have and do what I do and am proud of that. "I started out in life as an actor and a degree of economic instability and I felt it would be irresponsible to have children and much more responsible and mature decision to remain childless." And as far Bill Heffernan goes? "It is unbelievable that someone in 2007 has that dinosaur mentality and to be in Government and claim to be a leader, it's incredibly scary and that is one for record," she said. "Often holding down a big job is all-consuming and would be more difficult to fulfil the requirements if you had children."



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