Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research in Australia (CAMRA)

From grassroots to federal law – lobbying to legalise therapeutic cloning

What we did

Over a two-year period, Res Publica advised the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research in Australia (CAMRA) on shaping and executing an intensive lobbying effort.

Supported by a grassroots and media campaign, we brought  about a change in Federal law to legalise somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) or ‘therapeutic cloning’ as it is more commonly known.

We advised CAMRA on its direct engagement with MPs, Senators  and other key influencer groups. We helped mobilise those suffering from the  diseases and conditions that scientists believe medical research employing  therapeutic cloning may address, supplied them with the key facts and asked  them to make their views known to Senators from their State and local MPs. Overlaying this grassroots approach required regular meetings and written  communication to Senators and MPs.  We issued a regular stream of press releases and held media  briefings to amplify our messages and counteract many of the myths being pedalled  by some high profile opponents of therapeutic cloning.  

Our campaign helped create a climate in which our supporters in the Coalition were able to demonstrate to the then PM, John Howard, the need for him to shift position and facilitate a conscience vote in Parliament. We were instrumental in helping CAMRA accurately identify the positions that Federal parliamentarians would take in the conscience vote and this meant that our lobbying efforts were directed to those Senators who were genuinely undecided in the days leading up to the crucial vote.

Unlike the opponents of therapeutic cloning, our communication campaign was run without any significant funding yet it clearly cut-through (largely we believe) because once the facts were communicated in a measured and logical way, it was compelling to the community, media and the majority of Federal politicians.  By the end of our campaign (despite major hurdles) the restrictions disallowing therapeutic cloning were lifted by Parliament, bringing renewed hope to hundreds of thousands of Australians suffering from chronic and life-threatening diseases and conditions.