One Of The Women In This Photo Has Grace, And One Of Them Is Just Named Grace


If you’re a leftie, then the tweet I’m about to share with you is going to do your head in. It’s one of those opinions that, if you value humanity, compassion, courage, selfless sacrfice blah blah blah, is almost impossible to understand.

Late yesterday, uber-conservative columnist for The Australian, Grace Collier, decided to share her thoughts on Ebola with the world.

“Why do Australians go overseas, expose themselves to a hideous disease, then come back and risk infecting the rest of us? #Ebola”.

Why indeed. Selfish Ebola carrying bastards.

Collier’s angst was in reaction to yesterday’s late breaking news that Australian nurse Sue Ellen Kovack had spent a month working as a volunteer for Red Cross in Sierra Leone, where more than a hundred people have died from the virus, and many more are infected.

Grace and I can certainly agree on one point: Ebola is most definitely a hideous disease. That said, I don’t really blame Ebola. Ebola is just doing what Ebola does. Ebola can’t help that Ebola is a hideous disease, and I probably cut Ebola a little bit more slack than Collier. But I digress – yes, Ebola is a hideous disease.

That’s about where the common ground between Collier and me ends. And, it seems, I’m not alone on that point. Collier’s tweet received a swift and momentous response, with tweets like these:


Probably my favourite response was this one:

In Collier’s defence, despite the onslaught of opinion that she was, in fact, a soulless individual, there were a couple of tweeters who leapt to her defence.

There was this, from someone whose Twitter name includes ‘#TeamAustralia’, who sought to make it all Labor’s fault. Obviously.

And this, from a woman who apparently hates ‘do-gooders’ like Kovack almost as much as she hates Ebola.

Pamela H is, unfortunately, easily written off, courtesy of her incessant xenophobic tweeting, including this little gem:


Which, on reflection, doesn’t really provide Collier much of a defence at all. Because while she was universally condemned, the only support she got was from a foreigner-hating kook and some flip who tried to make Ebola political.

So let’s just call a spade a spade folks. Let’s just accept that expecting people like Collier to understand the concept of selfless sacrifice is too ambitious.

So maybe the facts might help?

The Ebola virus is not airborne. It does not transmit easily if proper precautions are taken.

This particular strain of Ebola is also not transmittable until symptoms begin to show.

In Kovack’s case, she returned from Africa with no symptoms. Ipso facto, chance of spreading virus thus far: virtually zero.

In addition to this, transmission is only capable through bodily fluids. In order for Kovack to transmit the virus, she would first have to catch it, second have to develop symptoms, and third, bleed or throw up on someone.

It’s helpful to remember at this juncture that Kovack is (a) a nurse, so she would be keenly aware of these facts; (b) volunteered to go to Africa to help fight Ebola (at some personal risk) and so probably doesn’t want to spread it in Australia; and (c) probably also doesn’t want to catch Ebola herself (I have no evidence to support the last two claims, so I’m happy to retract if it turns out Kovack does want to either catch and/or spread Ebola).

And so, knowing all this, what did Kovack do when she returned home?

She quarantined herself in her own home for several days – as is responsible, and required. And eliminates any risk – no matter how low – of infecting a nation.

Chance of spreading virus thus far: Still virtually zero.

In the course of quarantining and monitoring herself, Kovack ran a small fever. So, as a precaution, she was advised to attend Cairns Base Hospital.

It’s at this juncture that media found out about it, and of course saw the opportunity to scare the shit out of ignorant people unaware of the actual risks.

And it’s also at this juncture that Grace ‘the sky is falling in’ Collier sent her unfortunate tweet.

But, lo and behold, turns out this morning that Sue Ellen Kovack does not have Ebola. Tests for the virus have proved negative.

This is, of course, a very good thing. Because rather than an horrendous virus, Kovack clearly deserves high praise, and maybe even a medal. She certainly deserves better than to be accused of being a selfish Ebola-carrying petri dish of national contagion.

But just as conservatives will likely never understand why that is the case, they’ll also probably never understand why someone like me thinks that Grace Collier deserves Ebola.

And having said that, I guess when you think about it, conservatives like Grace Collier and leftie do-gooders like myself aren’t really all that different.

Collier thinks a selfless act of humanitarianism is selfish. And I wish Ebola on someone.

Thus, we’re both bad people and we both suffer from what’s known as the human condition, a disease which is most definitely incurable.

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. In more than three decades of journalism he's had his home and office raided by the Australian Federal Police; he's been arrested and briefly jailed in Israel; he's reported from a swag in Outback Australia on and off for years. Chris has worked across multiple mediums including print, radio and film. His proudest achievement is serving as an Associate producer on John Pilger's 2013 film Utopia. He's also won a few journalism awards along the way in both the US and Australia, including a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards. Since late 2021, Chris has been battling various serious heart and lung conditions. He's begun the process of quietly planning a "gentle exit" after "tying up a few loose ends" in 2024 and 2025. So watch this space.