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 31 OCTOBER 2014
The Abbott Government must immediately explain whether they will continue to refuse to support Australian health workers going to West Africa to fight Ebola, after it was revealed today the United States has offered its field hospital to Australian personnel.
The US Embassy has confirmed its field hospital in Liberia would be available for health workers, including Australians, if they became infected.
"The high-quality care provided will be at no cost and on a first-come, first-served basis."
Representatives of the US Government confirmed this offer to Labor's Deputy Leader, Tanya Plibersek, who has been in Washington and New York this week for talks with senior officials.
This follows last week’s Senate Estimates revelations the UK and US Governments made specific requests about a month ago for Australia to send personnel to help fight the Ebola crisis.
And we have further proof many Australian health workers are ready, willing, and able to assist.
In a survey of its members, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has found more than 350 Australian nurses are willing to travel to West Africa to volunteer in the fight against the Ebola crisis.
“We now have proof that more than 350 Australian nurses are ready, willing and able to help in the fight against Ebola. We have been overwhelmed by the response from our members, who continue to be deeply concerned by the Government’s reluctance to join the international effort to fight what is rapidly becoming a devastating humanitarian crisis.”
The time is now long overdue for the Abbott Government to heed the call of 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 today’s revelations make it clear the Abbott Government is running out of excuses not to act.