It started here with Crikey: on October 23, amid signs of disarray within the government on the issue, we reported that the government was set to send medical personnel to west Africa to help deal with the Ebola epidemic with the finalisation of agreements with the US and European countries to treat any Australians who became infected while there.
The following day, The West Australian‘s excellent Press Gallery reporter Andrew Probyn reported (exclusively) that 16 health workers could be sent the following week to west Africa once a deal with the UK was finalised. On October 26, the Sydney Morning Herald‘s James Massola reported (exclusively) that negotiations with the UK were “progressing” but that, in the words of Health Minister Peter Dutton, the government “needs to be sure of those arrangements before any decision is made about sending health workers”. Then, yesterday, not long after he wrote an op-ed calling on the government to do more to fight Ebola in Africa, Fairfax’s Peter Hartcher reported that the government was going to send health workers to deal with Ebola. And, you’ll never guess — Hartcher’s report was also “exclusive”, as his editor Darren Goodsir proudly tweeted. The announcement, according to Hartcher, was planned for today.
As of deadline, we haven’t seen the announcement, but we’re sure it will eventually happen. So many media outlets have reported that it’s about to happen, surely it must be true … although perhaps there’s time for one more exclusive, this time at a News Corp paper?
The more serious point is that the government — despite voters actually supporting its stance of studied indifference to tackling Ebola on the ground in West Africa — has struggled to make its case, and appeared internally divided over the issue. That it was so unwilling to send people to deal with a serious health threat not merely to west Africa but the rest of the world stood in bizarre contrast to the government’s boyish enthusiasm for following the United States back into Iraq. It seems that finally that contrast will be resolved — tomorrow?