STATEMENT - Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

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THE HON BILL SHORTEN MP

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG

 

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

THE HON CHRIS BOWEN MP

SHADOW TREASURER

MEMBER FOR MCMAHON

 

MEDIA STATEMENT

 

ASIAN INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT BANK

 FRIDAY, 31 OCTOBER 2014

Labor believes Australia should be actively engaging China on its proposal for an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Of course, governance and transparency arrangements, as well as environmental, social, and labour matters will need to be worked through.

There is an enormous need for increased infrastructure investment in the Asia Pacific, and we welcome additional investment from China.

It’s clear from media reports that the Abbott Government is hopelessly divided on this issue.

These reports of division and dysfunction inside the Abbott Cabinet are extraordinary.

This is not how important economic decisions should be made.

The Prime Minister needs to show some leadership and pull his feuding Treasurer and Foreign Minister into line and immediately clarify the Government’s position.

The Government is continuing to seriously mismanage our economic relationship with China.

The Prime Minister, the Treasurer, and the Foreign Minister must immediately clarify the Government’s position.

 

 

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MEDIA RELEASE - Ebola Crisis

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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

 

MEDIA RELEASE

 

EBOLA CRISIS

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."

US Embassy spokeswoman - Fairfax Media - 31 October 2014

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.”

ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas - Media Release - 30 October 2014

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.

 

 

 

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MEDIA RELEASE - Ewen Jones Lets Down Townsville Dental Patients

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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

 

MEDIA RELEASE

 

EWEN JONES LETS DOWN TOWNSVILLE DENTAL PATIENTS

 FRIDAY, 24 OCTOBER 2014

In Parliament today the Federal Member for Herbert, Ewen Jones, boasted to supporting cuts to public dental services which will hurt his own constituents.

The Abbott Government’s first budget cut $400 million from public dental services.

Mr Jones interjected during Labor MPs speaking against the cuts and was challenged to own up to his constituents:

Tanya Plibersek: ‘So you support these cuts do you?’

Ewen Jones: ‘Yes I do.’

“Today Mr Jones betrayed all his constituents on a public dental waiting list in Townsville when he spoke up for these cruel cuts,” said Ms Plibersek.

“Like the rest of the Abbott Government’s unfair Budget, the cuts to public dental services hurt the people most who can least afford it.”

“The Abbott Government’s dental cuts means hundreds of thousands of people with poor dental health, many of them in constant pain, will continue to wait for treatment,” Ms King said.

“These cuts will have a particularly damaging impact in regional cities like Townsville, where there are fewer dentists than in the capital cities.”

The $400 million in cuts to public dental are on top of $229 million in cuts to the Dental Flexible grants program, which reduces access barriers for people living in outer metropolitan, rural and regional areas.

In stark contrast, Labor in government:

  • Introduced reforms to make going to the dentist as easy as visiting a GP for 3.4 million children – including 28 000 in Herbert;
  • Funded the development of the Tropical Queensland Centre for Oral Health which benefits North Queensland; and
  • Provided $250 million to expand the Townsville Hospital with additional beds and operating theatres.

 

 

 

 

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MEDIA RELEASE - Ebola Crisis

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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

 

MEDIA RELEASE

 

EBOLA CRISIS

 

 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.

 

 

 

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MEDIA RELEASE - Ebola Crisis

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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

 

MEDIA RELEASE 

EBOLA CRISIS

 THURSDAY, 23 OCTOBER 2014

 

 

 

The foreign affairs department has revealed the UK and US Governments made specific requests for Australia to send personnel to help fight the Ebola crisis in West Africa, weeks ago.

 

In Senate Estimates today, the foreign affairs department’s Ebola response chief admitted that back in September the UK Government sent a specific request to the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, for Australian personnel to be sent to West Africa.

 

Foreign affairs’ officials confirmed this request was consistent with the views of UK Prime Minister, David Cameron.

 

The foreign affairs department also revealed that the US Government has requested Australia send personnel to West Africa.  That request was made formally through the Australian embassy in Washington DC, again in September.

 

In a further extraordinary admission, the head of the foreign affairs department said he had no information about a phone call between Prime Minister Abbott and US President Barack Obama where they discussed Australia making additional commitments to the Ebola crisis response effort.  That’s despite details of the call being released publicly by the White House.

 

The Abbott Government must immediately explain why it hasn’t acted on these very specific requests from the US and the UK - two of our closest friends.

 

Today’s revelations follow 24 hours of 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, and the immigration minister.

 

The Abbott Government’s uninterested, chaotic response to this serious health crisis is just not good enough.

 

 

 

 

EXTRACT FROM SENATE ESTIMATES TODAY

 

WONG: Now UK, I think in answer to a question from Senator Rhiannon you indicated there had been a request from the United Kingdom, is that right?

 

BLAIR EXELL, FIRST ASSISTANT SECRETARY, THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE (EBOLA CRISIS CHIEF): Correct, yep.

 

WONG: Just remind me, I apologise, I can’t recall this, it might have been reported but –

 

EXELL: So I mentioned earlier that the request covered personnel into the broader Sierra Leone Ebola response and for funding to again to support the response in Sierra Leone.

 

WONG: And how as that request received?

 

EXELL: I, from memory, I think Senator that was a letter to the foreign minister.

 

WONG: When was that received?

 

EXELL: The end of September.

 

WONG: From her counterpart?

 

EXELL: Actually I think it came from the High Commissioner , UK’s High Commissioner to Australia.

 

WONG: Australia’s High Commissioner? Sorry, the UK –

 

EXELL: High Commissioner –

 

WONG: Here in Australia?

 

EXELL: Correct.

 

WONG: Did that, given that was to the foreign minister tell me what happened as a result of that. Was there a meeting between the foreign minister and the High Commissioner or between DFAT and the High Commissioner or?

 

EXELL: Yeah, there’s been a number of meetings then between DFAT and the High Commissioner, I think he then went overseas so it’s actually been the acting High Commissioner. So we’ve been in touch with that office here in Canberra and indeed there’s been conversations that have been occurring in the UK as well.

 

WONG: In relation to this request, right. And has this request also been the subject of cabinet consideration?

 

EXELL: In the same way that I think the secretary referred to before as being part of the consideration, yep.

 

WONG: Okay. 

 

 

 

David Cameron’s views consistent with the request from the UK High Commission in Australia

 

WONG: And Mr Cameron maintained the British Government’s position in relation to the request or has the request been altered in some way?

 

EXELL: To my knowledge it hasn’t been altered.

 

PETER VARGESE, SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE: My understanding is the UK is still interested in Australian assistance along those lines….

 

 

 

Later – the US request

 

WONG: Finally the US, what is the US request?

EXELL: So there was an initial request for a liaison officer and then more recently the request from the US has expanded again to request personnel to support their efforts in Liberia and request has been for further contributions in to the UN system for financial resources.

 

WONG: What’s the nature of the request in relation to support, personnel to support US efforts in Liberia?

 

EXELL: It hasn’t been more specific than that Senator; it’s been personnel to support their efforts in Liberia.

 

WONG: And how was that communicated?

EXELL: I think that’s been through meetings with our Embassy in the US.

 

JOHN FAULKNER: Does it go to the number of personnel?

 

EXELL: Hasn’t gone to that detail Senator.

 

WONG: Can we just get some timeframes around this, so you said more recently, there was, there was the initial request for liaison officer then and more recently personnel to support their efforts in Liberia. Can you give me the approximate date of the second?

 

EXELL: Again the initial request was in the end towards the end of September.

 

WONG: Yep.

 

 

 

Later – about the status of this request

 

WONG: What’s happened with that request?

 

PETER VARGHESE, SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE: I think it is part of the general process.

 

 

 

On the head of the foreign affairs department and Tony Abbott’s call with President Obama

 

WONG: I appreciate that you’ve said you haven’t seen a record of this conversation but have you been orally briefed? Or have the Foreign Minister or her office, to your knowledge, been briefed?

 

VARGESE: I don’t know.

 

 

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MEDIA RELEASE - Ebola Crisis

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

MEDIA RELEASE

EBOLA CRISIS

SATURDAY, 18 OCTOBER 2014

Labor is concerned by reports the Abbott Government's $10 million pledge to help fight the Ebola crisis is yet to reach the United Nations.

The Abbott Government must answer this serious revelation, printed today in The West Australian newspaper.

The UN has said the Ebola outbreak must be controlled within 60 days or else the world faces an unprecedented situation for which there is no plan. So it's vital support is delivered to the UN as quickly as possible.

The $10 million is part of the Abbott Government's total $18 million contribution to help deal with the Ebola crisis. One philanthropist has donated $25 million. That one, individual donor has given more than the nation of Australia.

If the international community, including Australia, doesn't do more, some predictions suggest the number of Ebola cases could reach 1.4 million by 2015.

For weeks now, Labor has been calling on the Abbott Government to significantly step up Australia's efforts.

 

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MEDIA RELEASE - Chisholm Speaks Out Against Abbott Government's $7.6 Billion Overseas Aid Cut

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS & INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

ANNA BURKE MP

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR CHISHOLM

 

MEDIA RELEASE

 

CHISHOLM SPEAKS OUT AGAINST ABBOTT GOVERNMENT’S $7.6 BILLION OVERSEAS AID CUT

 THURSDAY, 16 OCTOBER 2014

The Abbott Liberal Government’s $7.6 billion cut to overseas aid is a broken promise that will hurt the world’s poor.

Tanya Plibersek, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development, was in Chisholm today and addressed members of the local community about the cuts at a public forum in Blackburn.

“Tony Abbott made a pre-election promise to increase investment in overseas aid in line with the consumer price index,” Ms Plibersek said.

“Yet in his first Budget, he cut $7.6 billion from our aid contribution, including more than $110 million from aid to our neighbours in the Asia-Pacific.”

Federal Member for Chisholm, Anna Burke, said the Abbott Government’s cuts are hugely disappointing for the organisations and individuals supporting international development in our local community.

“There are 28,000 supporters including 990 businesses and 80 community and church groups who are active around international development issues,” Ms Burke said.

“The community understands just how much Australia’s investment in aid means to the world’s poorest people unlike the Abbott Government which knows the price of everything and the value of nothing,” Ms Burke said.

The Abbott Government said it would provide certainty on overseas aid, but all it has delivered is chaos, cuts, and broken promises.

In contrast, the former Labor Government nearly doubled the aid budget.

 

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MEDIA RELEASE - Hotham Hit Hard by Child Care Benefit Cut

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TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

CLARE O’NEIL MP

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR HOTHAM

 

MEDIA RELEASE

 

HOTHAM HIT HARD BY CHILD CARE BENEFIT CUTS

 THURSDAY 16 OCTOBER 2014 

Federal Member for Hotham Clare O’Neil joined Deputy Leader of the Opposition Tanya Plibersek today at the East Bentleigh Childcare Centre to shine a light on the Abbott Government’s cuts to child care.

Despite promising no cuts to education, the Abbott Government has announced over $1 billion of cuts from the child care support Australian families rely on every day.

Legislation introduced by the Abbott Government, currently before the Parliament, has the sole purpose of cutting the Child Care Benefit which more than 3000 families in Hotham rely on.

“The Abbott Government’s cuts to child care support will impact local families on as little as $42,000 per year,” Ms O’Neil said.

“Recent reports show that child care costs are having the biggest impact on low and middle-income families – exactly the same people these cuts will hit the hardest.”

No government has ever before moved to cut or freeze the means-tested Child Care Benefit, and 80 per cent of families who receive child care assistance rely on Child Care Benefit support.

“Tony Abbott has the wrong priorities: he is cutting existing practical support for low and middle-income families, at the same time as arguing for $50,000 Paid Parental Leave payments for high income earners,” Ms Plibersek said.

“Just like the rest of his cruel and unfair budget – these child care cuts will hit those who can least afford it.”

Hotham residents can take a stand against Tony Abbott’s targeted child care cuts by signing the petition here, which already has over 25000 signatures:

http://www.alp.org.au/targetedchildcarecuts

 

 

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MEDIA RELEASE - Ebola Crisis

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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

 

MEDIA RELEASE

 

EBOLA CRISIS

 FRIDAY, 3 OCTOBER 2014

The Ebola crisis is no longer just a humanitarian crisis for West Africa – it now poses a direct threat to world economic growth and if not contained, will spread to other countries.

Failure to act now will have serious consequences and this week’s first Ebola case in the US shows that even countries with the most highly developed health and border protection are no longer immune.

As infectious diseases expert Dr Alexander van Tulleken today made clear:

“The only way to prevent this happening again is to roll back this disease in West Africa otherwise it’s not just going to be happening here, it’s going to be happening all over the world.”

Dr Alexander van Tulleken – ABC AM, 3 October 2014

 

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagard has also bluntly warned of the economic and security consequences of failing to tackle the Ebola outbreak now.

“The development of the Ebola virus. if it is not contained, if all the players that talk about it don’t actually do something about it to try to stop it, contain it and help those three countries deal with it, it might develop into something that would be a very serious concern and could cause significant risks.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagard – Washington DC Speech, 2 October 2014

 

That is why Labor has now for over a week been warning that the rapidly escalating situation demands Australia go further and support specialised personnel who wish to help fight the spread of Ebola.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott must act on the letter he has received from Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma which declares his country is counting on Australia.

"While we are doing everything possible to stop the outbreak, further support is urgently needed from your friendly government to scale up our national response with ... education efforts, as well as infection control measures," the letter says.

Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma – Letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, October 2014

 

Australia must put into action the unanimous UN Security Council resolution we co-sponsored calling on all nations to:

” …facilitate the delivery of assistance, including qualified, specialized and trained personnel and supplies, in response to the Ebola outbreak…”.

UNSC resolution 2177 – 18 September 2014

 

That resolution was co-sponsored by a record 131 countries.

Of the around 6,500 Ebola cases so far, more than 3,000 people have died.  If we don’t do more, some predictions suggest the number of Ebola cases could reach 1.4 million by 2015.

If the international community pulls together, the Ebola outbreak may be possible to contain.  But the window of opportunity is closing fast. That’s why Australia must significantly increase its efforts, immediately.

 

 

 

 

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MEDIA RELEASE - International Conference on the Ebola Crisis

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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

 

MEDIA RELEASE

 

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE EBOLA CRISIS

 

THURSDAY, 2 OCTOBER 2014

As a conference meets in London today to help coordinate international efforts against Ebola, the Abbott Government must say whether it will commit to supporting skilled, experienced Australians willing and able to fight the crisis in West Africa.

Today, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) reiterated that the Abbott Government is not doing enough to assist get the Ebola outbreak under control.

“…in the same way as we work with international partners in Syria at the moment, we can do absolutely the same thing with Americans, the British, and the other countries that are making similar arrangements - this is an international, in fact a global effort, and we need to play our part.  Eight million dollars doesn’t cut it, and I certainly agree…that our call at the Security Council for international assistance here is in contrast to our deeds on this matter.”

 

AMA Vice-President, Dr Stephen Parnis, ABC Radio National, 2 October 2014

 

Labor supported the Government’s initial $8 million financial contribution to help tackle this crisis, and the further $10 million announced today. But the rapidly escalating situation demands Australia go further and support specialised personnel who wish to help fight the spread of Ebola.

The Abbott Government’s refusal to take this step comes despite Australia co-sponsoring a unanimous UN Security Council resolution calling on all nations to:

” …facilitate the delivery of assistance, including qualified, specialized and trained personnel and supplies, in response to the Ebola outbreak…”. 

 

UNSC resolution 2177, 18 September 2014

The resolution was co-sponsored by a record 131 countries.

The United States and the UK have already committed medical teams to the region.

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.

If required, the Australian Government should negotiate with our international partners to ensure appropriate standby management arrangements for any Australian personnel – as suggested by the AMA.

Failure to act now will have incredibly serious consequences.

Of the around 6,500 Ebola cases so far, more than 3,000 people have died.  If we don’t do more, some predictions suggest the number of Ebola cases could reach 1.4 million by 2015.

If the international community pulls together, the Ebola outbreak may be possible to contain.  But the window of opportunity is closing fast.  That’s why Australia must significantly increase its efforts, immediately.

 

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