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
FRIDAY, 24 OCTOBER 2014
The nation’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Baggoley, has thrown his support behind sending Australian medical teams to fight Ebola in West Africa, according to ABC reports.
“Professor Baggoley said he would like to see Australian medical teams sent into the hot zone.”
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, October 23.
This report follows news today Ebola has spread to Mali, and that a doctor in New York City has tested positive for Ebola.
For weeks now, Labor has been pressing the Abbott Government to do more to fight the Ebola crisis at its source – in West Africa.
Under questioning at Senate Estimates yesterday, the foreign affairs department revealed that back in September the UK and US Governments made specific requests for Australia to send personnel to help fight the Ebola crisis in West Africa.
Those calls are echoed by the UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon, the UN Security Council, Médecins Sans Frontières, the International Crisis Group, the President of Sierra Leone, Oxfam, the Australian Medical Association, and the Public Health Association of Australia.
We know going to help fight Ebola in West Africa would not be without risk which is why it’s important safety protocols are in place to support Australian personnel who volunteer to serve.
But it is unacceptable that the Abbott Government has failed to make arrangements and act.
We know many Australian health workers are ready, willing, and able to assist.
There is no time to lose.
Earlier this month, the UN said the Ebola outbreak must be controlled within 60 days or else the world faces an unprecedented situation for which there is no plan.
If the international community doesn’t do more, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predict the number of Ebola cases could reach 1.4 million by early 2015.
We cannot afford to wait until Ebola reaches out to our region before Australia becomes part of the global effort to control this virus.
This week, we’ve heard wildly different accounts of the Abbott Government’s preparedness to respond to the Ebola crisis in West Africa from the Chief Medical Officer, the head of the health department, the Defence Force, the foreign affairs department, and the immigration minister.
The Abbott Government’s uninterested, chaotic response to this serious health crisis is just not good enough.