COVID-19

Albo makes big shift on rapid tests

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is resisting pressure to make the tests free, despite the kits being in short supply and increasingly expensive.He said instead the kits would be subsidised in some instances. Earlier this week, Mr Albanese called for the tests to be subsidised for all, but with pharmacists and the Doherty Institute calling for the kits to be free, he changed his tune. “Rapid antigen tests should be free and available. We are in a pandemic. Everyone needs access,” he said on Wednesday. “We have been saying for some time that nobody should be denied a test because they can’t afford one. We have considered the options and it is clear that this is the simplest, most efficient, fairest and most responsible way to fix the mess that Scott Morrison has made of testing at this critical juncture of the pandemic.“As always, we are prepared to work with the government to determine the best way to provide free tests through the Medicare system.”Mr Albanese said the Prime Minister’s proposal of giving low-income earners, welfare recipients and pensioners cash payments to buy up to five rapid antigen tests was “ridiculous”. “It’s clear that he has absolutely no appreciation of the skyrocketing cost of these tests or the consequences of his failure to order enough of them, quickly enough,” he said. “We can’t have people at their most vulnerable and contagious being ripped off, or going undiagnosed, or travelling around cities, suburbs and towns searching in vain for tests they can’t find or accord. “Price is one consideration, we also need the Prime Minister to fix the supply issues he is responsible for as well.”National cabinet will meet on Wednesday afternoon, where the price and availability of RATs is expected to be high on the agenda.

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