Pacific island residents infected with Ebola could be flown to Australia for treatment, Health Minister Peter Dutton says.
Mr Dutton flagged the possibility during an interview with Melbourne radio station 3AW on Friday.
Members of an Ebola burial team collect the body of a suspected Ebola victim from a home in Monrovia, Liberia.
Members of an Ebola burial team collect the body of a suspected Ebola victim from a home in Monrovia, Liberia.
Labor has criticised the Abbott government for not providing more help to deal with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, however Prime Minister Tony Abbott says it would be "reckless" to send health workers without a credible evacuation plan.
An infected person would not survive the 30-hour flight to Australia if they were to contract the virus.
Diplomats have been seeking an agreement with counterparts in the US, Britain and Europe to take any Australians who may need to be evacuated but no nation has yet been willing to supply such a guarantee.
However, Mr Dutton said in the event of an Ebola outbreak in the Asia-Pacific region, Australian medical workers would rightly help.
"If we need to fly people back to Australia for medical attention we can do that very quickly if we could not provide support for them adequately in [their own] country," he said.
An infected patient would most likely be flown to Darwin for treatment. Mr Dutton said that would be a last resort because treatment is more desirable "wherever possible" in the country of origin.
"China or Japan have their own well and truly developed plans but if you're talking about a Pacific island nation there is an obligation [on] us," Mr Dutton said, citing Papua New Guinea as an example.
Eleven people have been tested for Ebola in Australia. All have tested negative.
Mr Abbott said his focus was on ensuring Australia was adequately prepared for an Ebola outbreak.
"I don't want to play politics with Ebola," Mr Abbott said. "It is a very serious outbreak, it's a very serious, threatening and ominous outbreak.
"In the absence of on the ground treatment facilities, it would be a little reckless of an Australia government to commit our personnel at this stage."
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the government had not done enough.
"Australia cannot sleepwalk its way through this Ebola crisis," Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne.