Prime Minister Scott Morrison has caused an outcry after he used a question about women giving birth on a country highway outside of Canberra to plug a multimillion-dollar upgrade to the road.
During question time on Wednesday, Member for Canberra Alicia Payne asked Mr Morrison whether he thought it was acceptable that women were being forced to travel more than an hour from Yass to either Canberra or Goulburn to give birth.
The town has not had specialist maternity services since 2004.
"Well, I'm pleased to let the member know that's why we have committed $150 million to upgrade the Barton Highway," Mr Morrison said, sparking outrage from the opposition benches.
"The commitment will improve safety and reduce travel times to all motorists on that busy stretch from Yass to Canberra."
Mr Morrison pressed on despite interjections, saying the NSW south-east local health district received nearly $110 million in community activity-based funding for public hospital services last financial year.
The government had also signed a new hospitals deal with the NSW government worth $40 billion.
"This government has increased funding for hospital services in that area and in NSW, and across the country, to ensure that we can provide support whether it is for maternity services, or other important hospital services all around the country," Mr Morrison said.
But Ms Payne, who is currently pregnant with her second child, said she was "floored' by the Prime Minister's answer.
"It showed his complete lack of understanding of what the lack of maternity services in the Yass Valley means for the health and safety of women and their babies," Ms Payne said.
"Any parent or expectant parent knows a long drive to give birth is unacceptable and can end in disaster. This is a huge issue for families in our region.
"It's laughable that the response was an upgraded highway for women to give birth on."
Labor's health spokesman Chris Bowen said the Prime Minister's response was "extraordinary".
"What's he proposing, a birthing lane? Signs with a stork on it to say pull over here to give birth?" Mr Bowen asked.
Yass sits in the ultra-marginal electorate of Eden-Monaro, which is in the midst of a byelection after Labor MP Mike Kelly stood down for health reasons earlier in the year.