The chronic shortage of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) for Coronavirus is expected to ease in the coming weeks, but the Nationals Member for Lowan Emma Kealy says the Andrews Labor Government must take responsibility for the shortage.
In August the Health Minister, Martin Foley said “If you want to stake the welfare of Victorians on one Rapid Antigen Test, then you are a very brave public health official and you are putting the welfare of Victorians at risk.”
Ms Kealy said there are companies in Australia manufacturing these tests, but the Andrews Labor Government had made it clear they were not going to use RATs or change their policies.
“While our Health Minister has now backflipped and thinks RATs are the best thing since sliced bread, our local manufacturers have looked elsewhere and are now committed to supplying offshore markets,” Ms Kealy said.
“So it is a bit rich for Mr Foley, who refused to adopt the use of these tests and held off ordering RATs until Christmas Eve, to blame the shortage on the Federal Government.
“He could have a shed full of them in Victoria right now if he had ordered them earlier.”
Ms Kealy said that together with her Victorian Liberal Nationals colleagues, she had been pushing for RATs to be adopted in a range of settings to get people back to work for well over 12 months.
“Mr Foley wants to play the blame game, but his comments are on the record for all to see – he completely ruled out and refused to order them and now he is blaming the shortage on the Federal Government.”
Ms Kealy said she was sympathetic to businesses and workers who were able to continue to work on the back of a negative RAT result but could not get access to the tests.
“In the past week I’ve heard from people engaged in a wide range of business sectors who need access to these tests, particularly with the lengthy delays being experienced with PCR test results.
“I have been told of a number of cases where people were not notified of their PCR test results for up to 10 days. In once case one staff member was notified he was positive nine days after testing and told he was free to leave isolation from a date listed two days prior.
“Over 100,000 PCR tests have also been thrown out because they have taken too long to process.
“Victorians are not interested in the State’s blame game, they just want to know when they will be able to access the RATs so they can get back to work.
“Hopefully this will be before the end of the month.”