Greens senator Richard Di Natale is funding his own Ebola fact-finding mission to Africa.
Greens senator Richard Di Natale, who was denied Federal Government assistance to visit Ebola devastated regions, says he will pay his own way to go to West Africa instead.
Earlier this month, Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop, knocked back his request for consular assistance in Africa, saying said she would not "divert scarce resources from the High Commission in Ghana … on the frontline of Australia's Ebola response".
Senator Richard Di Natale said he would undertake his proposed fact-finding mission with the assistance of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
"My aim is to get in there, speak to the people co-ordinating the response, find out what they need and come back and start advocating for it," he said.
"I'm not particularly concerned about my own health because I'm unlikely to come into contact with anyone who is being treated for Ebola. I'm more concerned about the 35-hour flight."
Mr Di Natale worked as a GP and public health specialist before entering politics, making him somewhat uniquely qualified to provide both political and medical feedback regarding Australia’s frontline efforts on the Ebola crisis. He leaves on Saturday for Sierra Leone and Liberia, the two worst affected countries.
Senator Di Natale will meet WHO officials and other non-government organisations which are fighting the spread of the deadly disease. He has also made an offical request to managing director Glenn Keys to officially request assistance while visiting the site of Australia's Ebola response.
He is paying his own way there and co-ordinating his own transport, accommodation and logistics while in Africa.
Read more about this story at SMH.com.au
The Ebola crisis is a polarising subject for Australians, with arguments both for and against being hotly debated in Parliament, the media and the community.
All controversy aside, it is refreshing to see a political leader who believes in a certain course of action and who is determined to get something done. Senator Di Natale seems to be a forward thinking, progressive politician, who won’t let the lack of Government assistance stop him from acting on what he believes should be Australia’s response to this deadly epidemic.
While Ms Bishop was lecturing other countries on the Ebola response – yet promising little assistance – Mr Di Natale was whipping out the credit card and booking flights to Africa to find out how Australia can really help.
Mr Di Natale has had his share of the media spotlight lately, with his ‘Dying with dignity’ bill being debated in Parliament this month, as well as his name attached to the proposed legalisation of medical marijuana, which will be introduced to Parliament next week.
His progressive thinking should put him in a positive light with Australian voters, during a time when the major party leaders seem stilted, inneffective, and well, a little bit embarassing. His actions are a positive example of how political action could be, should we vote for true change.
What do you think? Do you respect Mr Di Natale for his actions? Do you think Australia needs to do more to assist Ebola-ridden countries? Or do you think we should just leave it up to them to help themselves?
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