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 Citizens Electoral Council of Australia

 Media Release  Friday, 17 October 2014

Australians cannot tolerate Abbott-Hockey austerity in face of Ebola threat

 In light of the Ebola epidemic, now clearly a global threat, Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey must abandon his current 2014-15 budget and immediately increase spending on public health, medical research and science. All budget cuts affecting health and science must be jettisoned, and the federal government must undertake an emergency action plan to boost funding and staffing of medical facilities, including hospitals, pathology, research and vaccine production centres, together with efforts to support the manufacture of medical equipment and protective gear, in the face of expanded global demand.

 Prime Minister Abbott must reverse his decision to commit money alone to the international effort to tackle Ebola at its root, and coordinate the medical teams and troops already demanded by the Australian Medical Association, the Public Health Association of Australia, and the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation, among others. A special session of the World Bank/IMF held in Washington D.C. <>  during their annual meetings, on the Ebola crisis, saw the United States, United Kingdom and the European Commission pledge to provide rapid medical evacuation services for Western health workers who volunteer to serve in West Africa, claiming it would help to remove an obstacle to a larger flow of skilled medical personnel into the region.


The Ebola threat


Due to the completely inadequate and belated international response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa the disease is now out of control. According to the World Health Organisation we are on track to reaching the point in the next couple of months, where 10,000 people a week will contract the disease. More than 4,500 lives have been lost so far, and 9,000 people have been infected. Somewhere between 13 and 23 countries are affected. The government of Sierra Leone has announced that it is unable to contain the spread of disease.


Leading U.S. infectious disease expert, Michael Osterholm, speaking at the Johns Hopkins Ebola Symposium on 14 October 2014 <> , stated that “Plan B” is therefore now in order. No single country can deal with this alone; there must be international cooperation, minimally between the U.S., Russia, China and Japan. This would include a crash international effort on research and a vaccine, which Russia, Canada and the U.S. are currently working on; Russia has announced they will deliver a vaccine which is 70-90 per cent effective in two months.


Nothing short of such international collaboration will work, including pledges and donations. For all the promises, the only outside government which actually has an operating medical facility for Ebola treatment in Western Africa right now, Osterholm declared, is that of Cuba. He warned of the consequences of the disease spreading into East Africa, illustrated by the fact that the slums of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo) house more than three times the population of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone combined.


Western nations caught out


There is no doubt that centuries of colonial looting and war, and decades of IMF-World Bank conditionalities combined with lack of development, have created the conditions for diseases like Ebola to thrive in Africa. But such policies equally threaten the West, where decades of underfunding and cost-cutting to medical systems have seen countries such as the U.S. and Spain caught flat-footed in attempting to deal with just a few cases of Ebola.


The case of Texas proves that America’s system is woefully inadequate <>  in dealing with all steps of the process—diagnosis, transport, quarantine, treatment, cleaning protocols and waste management. The United States has only four hospitals with the Level 4 isolation and care units equipped to handle Ebola! In recent surveys <>  37-85 per cent of nurses revealed that their hospitals were either not equipped with sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment or had not been educated or trained in regard to dealing with Ebola. The Carlos III Hospital in Madrid, Spain, where Ebola victim, nurse Teresa Romero Ramos is hospitalised, has had to clear three entire floors in order to house just 14 quarantined patients. Spain has been subject to excruciating austerity budgets under the Eurozone crisis, and could not handle a broader spread of the disease.


According to the President of the AMA, Brian Owler, there are hospitals in each capital city of Australia designated as “Ebola Centres” which are rushing to prepare themselves for potential cases, but the only way to prevent an outbreak here is to bring our economy, including the health sector, up to full functionality. Government intervention, including increased funding, training and recruitment programs—at the very least—are required.


A change in paradigm


That means a complete change of approach towards the economy, one which was urgently required anyway.


The immediate question which arises is: is our present, extremely ideological government, up to the job? Take Treasurer Joe Hockey. In a 2012 speech to the London Institute of Economic Affairs Hockey insisted that nations must slash spending along the lines of the European austerity model <> , despite knowing the fact that it will, as the pin-striped banker-stooge said, likely “result in a lowering of the standard of living for whole societies as they learn to live within their means.” (Emphasis added.) That lower standard of living now leaves their populations at the mercy of Ebola, but Hockey insisted then that democracy must not stand in the way of the deep cuts to government spending on health, education, and other essential services that the banking elite dictate in order to preserve their financial supremacy.


CEC leader Craig Isherwood made it clear today that either the Australian government dumps the old paradigm which binds us to globalisation, “the market”, and bean-counting budgets, or the people must dump the government. “It is time for emergency government action akin to a war mobilisation to save humanity”, Isherwood said. “My friend and collaborator, American economist Lyndon LaRouche warned from the mid-1970s that the ‘zero-growth’ economic policies imposed on Africa could create ‘a breeding-culture for eruption of epidemic and pandemic disease’, and we have long been passing on those warnings in this country. I now call on the Australian government to take the immediate action required, both locally and in assisting the international efforts to halt this pandemic.”


Isherwood concluded that all Australians should join with the CEC <>  to force the government to drop their deadly ideology and act to boost our health care defences.


Click here to receive a free copy of the latest Executive Intelligence Review magazine, which includes the article, “Officials Admit Defeat In Face of Ebola Threat” and “Overcoming the Imperial Drive for a New Dark Age”. <


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Craig Isherwood‚ National Secretary

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