Australia will not send health workers to west Africa’s Ebola outbreak zones because of logistical problems evacuating medical personnel if they contract the virus.
Médecins Sans Frontières has urged the Abbott government to increase Australia’s contribution.
But the foreign minister, Julie Bishop, insists Australia is pulling its weight and says the World Health Organisation has not asked for on-the-ground health workers.
The health and defence departments advised that Australia could not bring people home if they contract the disease, Bishop said.
“We will not be putting Australian health workers in a risky situation in the absence of evacuation plans and an appropriate level of medical care,” she told ABC radio.
The government is negotiating with Britain and the US on evacuations.
The opposition health spokeswoman, Catherine King, said Australia should send a team of health workers.
“It should not be beyond the wit of the Australian government to strike a deal,” she told ABC radio.
“Just because it’s not right on our border doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned about something of this magnitude.”
The government has contributed $8m towards efforts to combat the disease, which has killed about 3,000 people since December.