Michelle Rowland granted pair to care for sick baby

Michelle Rowland granted pair to care for sick baby

The federal coalition has now allowed a Labor MP to return to her western Sydney home to care for her sick baby.

Member for Greenway Michelle Rowland has asked Opposition whip Warren Entsch for permission to leave Canberra early to care for her 14-month-old daughter Octavia, who is suffering from flu and fever, News Limited reports.

Mr Entsch initially refused to grant Ms Rowland a pair, meaning she will have to stay in Canberra for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's budget reply speech.

However the opposition has backflipped on the decision after it was revealed this morning, sparking outrage.

Manager of Opposition Business Christopher Pyne says that Ms Rowland will 'absolutely' be granted a pair.

Mr Pyne put the decision to refuse a pair down to confusion over who was actually ill.

Mr Pyne says Mr Entsch thought Ms Rowland was caring for an ill family member, but did not realise that family member was a young child.

News Limited has published a letter from Mr Entsch, earlier refusing to grant the pair.

The letter acknowledges that Ms Rowland would like to care for her unwell child, before ending "The Opposition will not provide a 'pair' for the Member for Greenway on this occasion".

The western Sydney seat of Greenway is one of the nation's most marginal, and will be hotly contested by the two major parties at the September election.

A first-term MP, Ms Rowland won the seat by less than one per cent in 2010, allowing Labor to form its slim majority coalition with the independents and Greens.

Ms Rowland told News Ltd her request was not unreasonable, and should have been granted.

"Octavia is 14 months old and became sick on Mother's Day with a fever and vomiting," she said.

"The only item of business I would have missed on Thursday night was Tony Abbott's Budget reply speech."

"It's disappointing that the so-called party of family values wouldn't grant this very reasonable request for a mother to be with her baby."

In 2011, the Opposition was accused of cruelty after it refused to grant a pair for then-Labor MP Craig Thomson, so he could attend the birth of his child.

Mr Abbott eventually relented, despite Mr Thomson's absence possibly coinciding with a crucial vote to pass the carbon tax legislation.

Pairing is a longstanding arrangement whereby one side of politics agrees to absent one of its MPs from a vote in parliament where a MP from the other side is also absent.

It means ministers and MPs can attend to official business outside parliament, honour important personal commitments or take sick leave without jeopardising the outcome of important votes.