Category: laggards

UK has sent 750 people, USA 3000, Australia 0 looks like our approach to climate change. Not war however

Ebola worker in white suit being sprayed with disinfectant

Ebola crisis: AMA criticises Australia’s response to virus outbreak; West Africa cases exceed 10,000

The Federal Government’s response to the Ebola crisis has been chaotic, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) says.

AMA president Professor Brian Owler said the Government was keeping Australians in the dark about their plans and medical professionals wanted a coherent plan to tackle the crisis in West Africa and at home, in case Ebola spreads.

The Federal Health Department this week said that there were about 20 caseworkers trained to care for potential Ebola patients.

But Professor Owler said neither the AMA nor the chief health officer knew who they were or what sort of Ebola training they were being given.

“It’s not the AUSMAT (Australian Medical Assistance) teams that you would expect would be trained to do this work,” Professor Owler said.

“Who are these people? If anything is going to be irresponsible it would be a last-minute announcement about people who are ill-equipped or ill-trained to go and do this dangerous work”.

He has also called on the Government to announce what it is going to do to help tackle the “humanitarian crisis” overseas and what the plans are if a potentially infected person arrives in Australia.

And Professor Owler said he had “big questions” about mandatory quarantines at airports for people returning from affected areas, like those to be set up in the US.

He said the nurse in Cairns, who had quarantined herself after showing signs of fever, had followed the right procedures by avoiding contact with others and alerting authorities.

“People should be reassured that the risk of transmission of that infection is very, very, low, but obviously it is a concern,” he said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also accused Prime Minister Tony Abbott of not doing “enough to deal with this crisis”.

“Logic dictates that you’re better off dealing with the outbreak of a deadly and serious contagion closer to the source than waiting until it comes to Australia or comes to Papua New Guinea,” he said.

While we drag our feet on this issue, while the Government continues to roll out the tired old excuses about why we can’t respond, unfortunately people are going to continue to die

AMA president Professor Brian Owler

“If you want to deal with a contagion and a disease which is deadly and spreads very rapidly, you’re better off dealing with it early.”

The Government has so far refused to send health workers to Africa, arguing that it would be unable to evacuate them if they became infected with the deadly virus.

The US and UK asked for assistance from Australia a month ago.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott acknowledged the requests, but insisted the security of “our people” was paramount to any final decision.

The British are sending 750 people to help in Sierra Leone, while the US has dispatched more than 3,000 to Liberia.

“While we drag our feet on this issue, while the Government continues to roll out the tired old excuses about why we can’t respond, unfortunately people are going to continue to die,” Professor Owler said.

Progress despite the haters:

What I’ve learned this week is that Labor leaders will always be more popular after their time in office. I think we’re already seeing this in the way that the public admire Gillard not very long after her opinion polls were as low as Gough’s. Because Labor reforms are enduring. They might not be perfect at the time, they might not go as far as the Greens would like them to, which is irrelevant when you consider the Greens don’t actually have to fight to turn ideas into policies. And of course Labor governments and oppositions will make mistakes and will be lambasted by their own supporters amongst others and will hopefully stick to their values in the end.

One thing I’ve learned about politics is that, like life, it’s complicated. I’m proud to stand by Labor while they keep fighting the good fight. Implementing good public policy isn’t about ideological purity. It’s about outcomes. Outcomes can be messy, ugly, and usually less than perfect and can make enemies of powerful people. Progress doesn’t often come about in a revolution – it can be just a preference over something worse. But any progress is better than no progress. And of course it’s preferential to be going forwards, however slowly, rather than backwards like we are under the Abbott government.

My support of the Labor Party isn’t about aligning my identity so closely to the party that the minute they do something I disagree with, my faith crumbles irrevocably and I turn my back forever on the movement and become bitter and twisted, and likely to lash out. I don’t hold the unobtainable expectation that the Labor party will be everything I want them to be all the time without fail. How is it even possible to be everything to everyone when everyone has different opinions about what this ideal looks like? Being a Labor supporter is about supporting progressive policies that align with my values. This means taking the good with the bad, disagreeing when you disagree and giving credit when credit’s due – all in equal measure.

I don’t think Gough got enough credit for his brilliant political career while he was in power, just as Labor gets no credit for their previous two terms, nor for the work they are doing in opposing Abbott. People always wait to say the nicest things about people after they’re dead – when it’s too late for them to appreciate the compliments. I keep this in mind while I watch in frustration modern Labor deal with the exact same situation. Gough supported Labor to the end. I’m happy to wait 30 years for Labor to get credit, as long as in the meantime, they keep reforming. Because it’s the progressive outcomes that are important. Far more important than what haters say today.