Unless Australians want robots with no families representing them in Canberra, one federal Liberal minister says it's time for a tough discussion on politicians' work hours.
Assistant Home Affairs Minister Linda Reynolds says Australians have to think about the type of people they want in Canberra, including politicians' staff.
"Who do we want to put their hands up, what are the current barriers and disincentives, and what can we do to change that?" she told AAP on Tuesday.
Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O'Dwyer announced on the weekend she was quitting politics, aiming to have a third child and spend more time with her first two.
Labor MP Tim Hammond also quit earlier in the year, citing the need to spend more time with his young family and the regular travel from Perth.
Senator Reynolds said MPs work seven days a week, but talking to the public about getting a work-life balance for politicians wasn't easy.
"Is that reasonable? I think most people would say if you think MPs are working 70, 80 hours a week, they'll say 'Well, make them work harder'," she said.
But she said that attitude makes it difficult to attract and keep people in politics who have a family life or want to maintain a relationship.
"Is there a way we can do our business better, which I think would make us better politicians, better family members and better representatives," Senator Reynolds said.
That could include sitting in longer and more intensive blocks in Canberra, so MPs get more time at home with their families and in their electorates.
Easing up criticism of family travel so MPs with take their children and partners to Canberra more easily could also be an option.
Senator Reynolds said scheduling Senate committee hearings on parliamentary sitting days and making better use of teleconferencing could make a big difference.
"We don't have formal leave, we certainly don't get leave loading, there's no sick leave, parental leave. We don't have official working hours," she said.
That is cutting out a significant portion of Australians who otherwise might make a great contribution in politics.
"How do we attract those people and demonstrate that they can still manage," Senator Reynolds said.
"That this is a viable long term career. Yes, you can still have a family and a partner. You can sustain viable relationships with spouses and with families."
Australian Associated Press