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
SATURDAY, 1 NOVEMBER 2014
Today it's been revealed the United States has asked the Abbott Government to significantly step up its efforts to fight the Ebola crisis.
Reports say the formal request, received through our embassy in Washington, asks the Abbott Government to build three Ebola field hospitals in West Africa and send 100 health workers to staff them.
It's also understood the United States has requested the Abbott Government make a further $30 million contribution to the United Nations Ebola fund.
A request like this, from our close friend the United States, shows the Abbott Government has done nowhere near enough to respond to this serious crisis.
Today, Australia assumes the Presidency of the UN Security Council, so it's time for the Abbott Government to start showing some leadership on this global issue.
Labor has been saying for weeks the Abbott Government needs to do much more, including supporting Australian health workers willing and able to go and fight Ebola at its source in West Africa.
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 the Australian Medical Association says many doctors are willing and able to go.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation says more than 350 Australian nurses are willing and able to go.
The United States has reportedly offered training and support for Australian personnel.
The United States has also confirmed its high-quality field hospital in West Africa would be available for health workers, including Australians, if the worst should happen and they became infected with the virus.
Reports also indicate this is the third request the United States has made to Australia for help. The United Kingdom has made a formal request for more help from Australia too.
Those requests come on top of calls from the UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon, the UN Security Council, Médecins Sans Frontières, the International Crisis Group, the President of Sierra Leone, Oxfam, and the Public Health Association of Australia.
Yet the Abbott Government has failed to take action.
The Abbott Government is running out of excuses not to act.
If the Abbott Government is serious about helping to get this crisis under control, there isn’t a moment to lose – it must immediately step up and do more.