THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
THE HON CATHERINE KING MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH
MEMBER FOR BALLARAT
AUSTRALIA MUST CONTRIBUTE MORE TO FIGHT AGAINST WEST AFRICA EBOLA CRISIS
MONDAY, 29 SEPTEMBER 2014
The Abbott Government must listen to the pleas from medical experts and contribute more to the fight against the Ebola outbreak in West Africa by supporting skilled and experienced Australians who are willing and able to assist.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has described the worsening Ebola crisis as “unparalleled in modern times” with the disease now having killed more than 3,000 people.
Just because the Ebola crisis is not right on our border doesn't mean that we shouldn't be concerned about the scale of this humanitarian disaster.
The window of opportunity to contain this outbreak is fast closing. As President Obama said last week in a speech to a high level UN meeting on the crisis, “everybody has to do more”.
In that speech, President Obama made clear the urgent need in West Africa is for nations like Australia “to contribute critical assets and capabilities — whether it is air transport, or medical evacuation, or health care workers, or equipment, or treatment.”
Labor supported the Government’s $8 million in financial contributions, but believes the crisis now demands Australia go further and support specialised personnel who wish to contribute to tackle this rapidly escalating crisis.
Government claims that Australia cannot care for medical personnel sent to West Africa ignore the fact around a dozen Australian volunteers are already on the ground there dealing with the Ebola crisis.
The US and UK have already committed medical teams to the region.
If required, the Australian Government should negotiate with our international partners to ensure appropriate standby management arrangements for any Australian personnel in West Africa.
Australia is a prosperous and generous nation and our Government should do all it can to assist this humanitarian crisis while it is still possible to contain this Ebola outbreak.