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.