A Port Stephens councillor has spoken out after being criticised on social media for her ability to serve the community while being a mum of two small children.
A comment on a community Facebook page said councillor Jaimie Abbott "doesn't seem to attend many meetings".
A reply to that comment said "In her defence, she does have two small children".
But another person replied to that saying: "Two small kids? I thought Dad was going to look after their first child as mentioned in the media. Just assumed the same for their second Bubba. Why were we not told? Do those changes not impact the person's ability to carry out their role? Have we not been poorly served as a result?"
The commenter went on to say they were about to be pre-selected for a party in Sydney for a state election when their daughter was little, but decided it would be "virtually impossible to give both my family and the campaign/role my fullest time and energy".
"So I withdrew. That I believe is what an honourable person would do," the comment continued.
Cr Abbott said she was upset and angry reading what the constituent had to say.
"I just can't believe it, in this day and age," Cr Abbott said.
"I thought we were past that - I really did.
"If the situation was reversed and I was a male councillor I cannot imagine a man being attacked for that."
Cr Abbott said the comment was part of the reason she was not contesting a "winnable" seat in the upcoming Port Stephens local government election. She will be second on the ticket for the Liberals.
"I don't want to run again, I'm on our ticket but I'm running in an unwinnable spot," she said.
The comment also accused Cr Abbott of not living in the Port Stephens Local Government Area, which she said was not true.
The mum of two said she didn't want to deter other women from politics by bringing attention to the situation, but felt she needed to call out the behaviour.
Cr Abbott has missed four out of 11 council meetings this year. She said one was due to illness while three others were because her children were sick.
"I'm getting criticised for putting my family first and people expect me to go to council when I've got sick kids," she said.
When she ran for the Liberals in Port Stephens in the 2019 state election, Cr Abbott announced if she won, her husband would be a stay at home father, but she lost and the council position is only part-time.
She pointed out Port Stephens' babysitting allowance for councillors was low compared to other Hunter councils - $2000 a year - compared to Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, which are both $6000. She said she burned through the allowance by the start of this year.
"For the past few months, every time I've been going to a council meeting it's been costing me money," she said.
"That's not an attack on council, it's just the policy."
Cr Abbott said this was not a partisan issue, and believed there should be more women and parents in local government roles.
"I'm a big advocate for women in local government from all political parties," she said. "On Port Stephens Council there are only two women out of the 10 of us.
"I think we should stand up to this because I really think more women should be encouraged."
In relation to the Facebook comment saying "have we not been poorly served as a result?" Cr Abbott said she believed she was serving the community well and mentioned being part of an effort to return Mambo Wetlands to public ownership and lobbying the NSW Premier for an accessible playground in Shoal Bay as examples.
"People who comment things like that, they haven't requested a meeting with me," she said. "I feel like I've always put the community first so this is really disappointing."
If the situation was reversed and I was a male councillor I cannot imagine a man being attacked for thatCr Jaimie Abbott