SENATOR CLAIRE MOORE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND THE PACIFIC
SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND
SKY NEWS TO THE POINT
WEDNESDAY, 25 JANUARY 2017
SUBJECT/S: Donald Trump's gag order
KRISITINA KENEALLY: Senator Moore, you were the Shadow Minister for Women, I wanted to speak to you about this 'global gag rule' that President Trump has signed yesterday. It got a bit lost in all the news about the Transpacific Partnership which is understandably a big story. But this 'global gag rule' as I understand it, will bar organisations who receive American money for foreign aid from offering reproductive counselling that involves abortion advice. Is that how you understand it?
SENATOR CLAIRE MOORE: Absolutely. It is actually back to the future. We have had these gags before under Republican Presidents and it is no surprise, we knew that this was part of his policy. It really hurt yesterday to see that shiny black folder and that signature go down to take us, I think, back a long way for women's equity.
KENEALLY: We have some vision I think we might show of President Trump surrounded by six or seven…
KENEALLY: …six or seven men as he signed this executive order to take this funding away. What type of impact do you think this is going to have on women in countries that depend on foreign aid?
MOORE: We have already had information from organisations like IPPF, International Planned Parenthood, about how they see that their services are going to be deeply affected, they do a cross range of services. It is about reproductive health, it's about counselling, it's about safe pregnancy, it's about HIV support. All of these services work together, and this particular change will mean that they will lose millions of dollars which will cut from their bottom line their capacity to provide any services at all. So it is a very sad day and I don't think people have really thought about the wider impact on women, and men, and families in countries that need help.
PETER VAN ONSELEN: Senator, just to take a step back for a moment. Take me through what are the sorts of engagements that these sort of organisations could have in any way with the concept of 'terminations' which would render them therefor no longer eligible under this order from Donald Trump for foreign aid?
MOORE: My understanding is, and I haven't read the actual order, but I have read about it, is that any organisation that receives any funding from any donor which leads to services that are linked to abortion. So abortion services, post counselling, anything that can be linked to abortion - they would be automatically lose any money from the US government.
VAN ONSELEN: So even post counselling? So even - I mean we are not even talking here about direct involvement in the practise of abortion. We are talking about anyone even involved in the counselling that I would have thought any decent human would want someone to be able to get in the aftermath of one?
MOORE: Any service that could be linked in any way to supporting abortion in any way, would actually cut funding availability for any organisation. So what is being done is organisations will have to sign a pledge saying they will not be involved in any services that could be linked to abortion. That does not exclude counselling, anything that would talk with families about abortion being an option, about abortion being available, or in terms of what would happen post abortion. So that was how it worked before and we need to check how it is going to happen now. But they move very quickly. This actual process is in place from today.
KENEALLY: This could have an impact, Senator, I would have thought on Australian government funded aid organisations, because it is essentially going to shift demand away from those organisations that are funded by the American government to other countries, other organisations. Do we have sense yet as to how this will impact on Australian foreign aid?
MOORE: We are still coming to grips and I have actually put a request into DFAT to get some information about how they perceive the change. But what we do know is that if the American process is taken out, or even if it is limited, the demand will still be there. So if it be Australia with its aid programs or if it is the EU with their aid programs, which is very active in this way, there will be a demand. But as you know our aid funding has been reduced and we aren't operating in some of those areas at all any longer. But none-the-less what we do know is that this reduction is just the first step. I am also very worried about United States funding for the UN programs. The UNFPA is very much involved in this kind of work across the globe: training, counselling, engagement in nations about reproductive health and rights for women and girls. We haven't heard yet what the US administration will do with their funding in that area. Will that flow on if they're opposed to any discussion of abortion in countries remember where it is legal? We aren't talking about offering services where it is not legal locally. It is only in nations where these services are legal can this funding be used and now it won't be able to.
KENEALLY: Senator Moore you have mentioned that this has happened previously under Republican Presidents but it is not that long ago that Australia had a very similar rule in place.
MOORE: Yes we had that process for a number of years where, not exactly the same wording, but a very similar 'gag clause' was placed in our aid funding for Australian funders. That took a long time, it came under the Howard years, with a lot of work that was being done by Senator Harradine and people who supported his position. There was actually a clause put in place that AusAid funding, as it then was, could not go to any organisation that was linked to abortion services. It took many, many years to have that gag lifted. And I am very glad to say that we had cross party support to lift that ban. I am hoping that will continue into the future. But now with the American ban back in place people of like-mind may want to bring that back for discussion in Australia.
KENEALLY: Is this something that Labor will be likely to put to the Government in Question Time when parliament returns?
SENATOR CLAIRE MOORE: I think that could be likely Kristina.
VAN ONSELEN: Even more importantly Senator will it happen in the lower house? With the greatest of respect, we are not watching you guys up there in the Senate, as interesting as it might be. It needs to be Bill Shorten vs Malcom Turnbull to get the attention.
MOORE: (laughs) I don't find that respectful. But none-the-less in terms of process, I think in many ways, I don't mind having the discussion because I think the more awareness people have of what this could mean, and the clear evidence that we need to have information services available around the world, people will learn more about the process. What I don't want to have is a vicious, seemingly values based, attack on how we use our foreign aid services.
VAN ONSELEN: I think people would be surprised to learn that a similar ban was in place in Australia up until Stephen Smith overturned it during the life time of the Howard government. I guess it says two things:
that things fall off the radar quickly and go unnoticed subsequently when they are not the news of the day and secondly, let's hope it also says something about how far we have come, even if Donald Trump is trying to turn the clock back.
MOORE: I hope so too and I am hopeful. I know we have strong support across parties. But you know as well as I do that there is a range of opinion and a very public opinion now in our parliaments which may want to bring this issue back. What we're saying is: we don't want this to become part of a partisan debate. We want to have genuine reflection about what genuine equity means for women, and families, across the globe.