Unions slam Scott Morrison’s refusal to provide free rapid antigen tests

Dec 31, 2021
Unions have slammed Scott Morrison over his refusal to offer free rapid antigen tests. Source: Getty Images.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come under fire from Unions who claim the government has avoided “responsibility for testing accessibility and affordability” by not making rapid antigen tests (RATs) free, as Covid-19 cases continue to rise across the county.

Unions and businesses have been calling for free testing since October, urging Morrison to follow suit with other countries that offer rapid testing for free. During a National Cabinet meeting on December 30, the measure to offer free rapid testing was refused. Instead, changes were made to the definition of a close contact and new testing requirements across each state and territory were announced.

Despite the announcement, the Australian Council of Trade Unions president Michelle O’Neil said the Prime Minister “is dodging federal government responsibility during the pandemic” in its approach to rapid antigen testing.

“Right now, a single test can cost up to $20, if you’re lucky enough to find a chemist that still has them. That’s $100 for a family of five. That might be small change to the Prime Minister, but it’s out of reach for many families,” she said.

“Unions and businesses have been calling on the Morrison Government to provide free rapid antigen testing since October, instead they’ve done nothing. Now Australia is lagging behind the developed world, including the USA’s chaotic healthcare system, in providing free and accessible testing.”

In a statement on December 30, Morrison said the “National Cabinet will continue to work on arrangements to provide RAT tests to vulnerable cohorts”.

“In all other cases, RAT tests will be procured by individuals privately at their own cost – they will not be provided by Governments, thereby providing certainty to retailers, wholesalers and suppliers,” he said.

“The Commonwealth, states and territories will work on concessional arrangements for low income and concession card holders for self-administered RATs.”

Do you think rapid antigen testing should be offered to Australians for free?

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