OPINION PIECE - Why I'm a Feminist

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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 

 

OPINION PIECE

 

WHY I'M A FEMINIST

 

I am a feminist. Not because I'm a whinger, or a victim, but because I understand how very fortunate I am. And I'm grateful to the women (and men) who've made that possible.

If a footballer runs onto the field to a barrage of racist abuse, should he ignore it?  Or should he call it out as unacceptable?  What is the braver thing to do?

Ignoring racism or sexism doesn't make it go away.

I am a feminist because I am grateful to be able to combine motherhood with a career that is intellectually and emotionally rewarding.

I am a feminist because I understand that the 18 per cent gender pay gap is not there because women are less competent at work than men.

I am a feminist because I know that the number of older women retiring with less superannuation than men is not because they are worse savers.

I am a feminist because I know it's unacceptable that one in every five Australian women will experience sexual assault and one in every three Australian women will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes.

I am a feminist because I want my daughter to be safe walking home; because I want her to feel any profession is open to her, and that she is valuable for her intellect, her kindness, her sense of humour – not her looks.

I am a feminist because I want my sons to know the deep rewards of an equal relationship with their life partner, the satisfaction of being a hands-on father, and the limitless opportunity of rejecting unhealthy stereotypes.

I am a feminist because I recognise that it is the struggle of previous generations that have given me the opportunities I have.  Bella Guerin, who back in 1883 became the first woman to graduate from an Australian university; Edna Ryan who fought for equal pay for men and women; Vida Goldstein who fought for women to be allowed to vote and stand for Parliament; and Jeannette McHugh, the first Labor woman to be elected to the House of Representatives from NSW.

I am a feminist because I know that having so much joy and satisfaction at home and at work, it would be completely unacceptable to say to other women, the young women I meet, so full of potential,  "you're on your own".

If you don't see the structural problems in society, you can't fix them.

This was first published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday, 13 November, 2014

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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

 

MONDAY, 10 OCTOBER 2014

The United States has again called on the Abbott Government to do more to help fight the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

This latest plea has come from the highest levels of the US Government through its national security adviser, Susan Rice.

 

"We look to Australia and other partners that we'll have the opportunity to meet with at the G20 to fulfil the commitments they've made and do more, frankly."

"Because at this stage, there are many needs that remain unmet in the West African region, whether it's financial resources, particularly for the United Nations appeal, healthcare workers, beds, and medical supplies."

"We continue to look to capable partners like Australia to do their part"

Susan Rice, US National Security Adviser, Australian Financial Review, 10 November, 2014

 

It is reported US President Barack Obama will push for Australia to step up its efforts when he meets with Prime Minister Abbott in China today.

The United States is a great friend to Australia.  We must take requests from them to do more very seriously.

When Ms Plibersek was in the United States recently, officials from the State Department, the White House, and the United Nations told her again and again how important it was to get more skilled personnel to West Africa.

That's what Labor has been urging for many weeks now.

Though long overdue, Labor welcomed the additional measures to help fight Ebola, announced by the Government last week.  But by Mr Abbott's own admission, those measures may not see many Australian volunteer healthcare workers supported to go to West Africa.

We know there is a need for Australian healthcare workers in West Africa.  Our close friend and ally, the United States, is telling us so too - and they're asking for our help.

There are hundreds of Australian doctors and nurses willing and able to help fight Ebola in West Africa. The Abbott Government needs to do more to support them to go.

 

 

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MEDIA RELEASE - Ebola Crisis

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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 CATHERINE KING MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH
MEMBER FOR BALLARAT

 

STATEMENT

 

EBOLA CRISIS

 WEDNESDAY, 5 NOVEMBER 2014

Labor welcomes the Abbott Government’s announcement of additional support to fight the Ebola crisis.

But by Mr Abbott’s own admission, it is possible no Australians will be involved in providing that additional support.

 

“Most of them [running the Ebola treatment facility in West Africa] will be locally engaged. Some will be international, and it's quite possibly even likely that some will be Australian.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, press conference, 5 November 2014

 

Labor has been saying for weeks that the Abbott Government needs to do more, including supporting Australian health workers who are willing and able to fight Ebola at its source in West Africa.

Today’s announcement does almost nothing to facilitate that.

That’s despite calls from around the world for personnel to be supported to go to West Africa, including the UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon, Médecins Sans Frontières, the American President and UK Prime Minister, the President of Sierra Leone, Oxfam, the Australian Medical Association, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, and the Public Health Association of Australia.

A UN Security Council resolution, which the Abbott Government both co-sponsored and voted for, calls on nations to:

 

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

Australia has some of the best trained, most dedicated health workers in the world.  We have been inspired by the many doctors and nurses who have selflessly offered to assist.

The Australian Medical Association says many Australian 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.

Of course, going to help fight Ebola in West Africa would not be without risk.  That’s why we continue to stress how important it is that safety protocols are in place to support Australian personnel who volunteer.

But if, as an international community, we are to have a chance of getting this crisis under control, there isn’t a moment to lose.

The Abbott Government must do more to support Australians who volunteer to serve. Today’s announcement does very little to address that.

 

 

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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

 

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.

 

 

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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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