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Greens to move amendment in law to ensure AusAID ban lifted

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has announced the Greens will move a legislative amendment to ensure the restrictions on AusAID funding for family planning services are lifted, if the Government does not do so by the next session of parliament.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith yesterday said that he expected to make an announcement on the restrictions in the “very near future”.

“While the Greens are encouraged to hear that a decision is imminent, the fact is that this Government has had more than twelve months to overturn these archaic and dangerous restrictions, with no action thus far,” said Senator Hanson-Young.

“In contrast, US President Obama moved to overturn his country’s global gag rule after less than one week in the job.

“The Government’s assurances that it will do something soon are starting to ring hollow after all this time.”

Senator Hanson-Young said that, if the Minister has not lifted the current restrictions by the next parliamentary sitting period, the Greens will move an amendment to Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2008-2009, which provides ongoing funding for AusAID programs, to make restrictions on certain family planning programs unlawful.

“The Greens will be requesting a conscience vote on this matter,” she said.

“It is no secret that there is much internal pressure on the Foreign Affairs Minister, as well as support within the Opposition, with regard to overturning these restrictions.

“If Minister Smith cannot find the will to allow Australia’s foreign aid to flow fairly to programs that will undoubtedly save the lives of women in our region, the Greens will move to ensure that the funding of such programs is not merely at the whim of the Minister of the day.”

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