Ahead of taking maternity leave for the birth of her second child, Alicia Payne says there is still work to be done to ensure Parliament is a parent-friendly workplace.
Elected member for Canberra at the 2019 election, Ms Payne expects to sit in Parliament next week but will then take leave ahead of her due date in early September.
"This role hasn't been designed necessarily for parents, but most roles haven't," she said.
"This is something across the workforce that we're all slowly, to varying degrees, getting better at balancing life and parenting. You know, not just for women but for dads, too."
Parental leave for members of Parliament doesn't work quite in the same way as other workplaces.
While Ms Payne will be "paired" for votes in sitting weeks, she won't really take a break from the other elements of being an MP, such as responding to constituents' needs and queries.
"The work of the representative never stops," Ms Payne said.
"My electorate work will continue happening, my staff will help a lot with that."
Ms Payne wants Canberrans to know her new office on London Circuit in Civic will be open throughout her leave, and people can continue to come and expect help, whether it's with Centrelink, immigration or other issues.
Ms Payne's new baby is part of a boom of new babies due to Australian parliamentarians in the coming months. Among her Labor colleagues alone there are six expecting parents.
Victorian MPs who travel to Parliament next week will only be able to do so after completing two weeks of quarantine and Queensland MPs will need to complete two weeks' quarantine on their return. This, along with health concerns among MPs means there are many representatives who won't make the trip to Canberra.
After a period of lobbying, including from expecting parents, the government agreed to measures that allowed members to make speeches and contribute to question time through video link, but MPs must be in the room to vote or count towards quorum.
Ms Payne said that was a welcome announcement but it was disappointing it had taken so long.
"Like so many other workplaces, we should be adapting to these virtual ways of participating so people can continue to represent their electorates in the Parliament," she said.
"It's something that going forward, ideally we'll have a more consistent plan around that where we can put these things in place in the situation of a crisis like a pandemic, but also other situations like where people can't travel for family or other reasons, perhaps we could be more open to some of that."
Expecting to be back sitting in Parliament by February, Ms Payne said the first 15 months of her parliamentary career were not what she expected - helping constituents through the summer's bushfires and now the pandemic.
Before stepping away from the halls of power for a bit, she expects to be talking more about the government's review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, with the government already set to act on the interim findings.
"These are the laws that protect our environment and they're not working, we have a real opportunity to improve them really strongly," she said.
"They're currently very process-based, but they need to focus more on outcomes and what it is that we're trying to protect."
Ms Payne said the laws needed to incorporate the impact on climate change and Environmental Protection Agency to be established.
As the debate continues about the rate of the JobSeeker payment, which is set to drop at the end of September when the coronavirus supplement decreases, and with further uncertainty at the end of the year with no commitment to its continuation, Ms Payne said this was the chance to ensure the rate of the welfare payment was right.
"The government could be doing that work right now, to get the rate right, on an ongoing basis, and the income tests and the interaction with the other payments," she said.
Ms Payne said it was the consideration of other elements, like partner income tests and asset tests, both of which had changed during the response to coronavirus, but were set to snap back in coming months, that meant a wholesale review of the rate was needed.
"I know many would rather see us commit to a rate but the reason is, you could adjust the rate and without getting the income tests right it's still going to not provide people with a decent standard of living," she said.