Greg Hunt doubles down on his denial that the federal government has carried out thousands of rapid antigen tests for essential workers despite the MP claiming that new evidence proves it
- Queensland MP claims Feds ‘requisitioned’ rapid antigen tests
- He cited a $26 million contract between the Department of Health and Motion One
- Motion One said it has yet to provide a single kit to the federal government
- Mr Hunt also denied claims that the contract would not start until February 7.
A $26 million contract with a major supplier of rapid antigen tests is proof the federal government has diverted supplies from essential workers, a Labor MP claims.
But Health Minister Greg Hunt doubled down on denials that tests had been requisitioned by the Commonwealth, saying the contract is not in effect until February 7.
On Friday, Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey released a letter from a supplier claiming the Federal Government had ‘requisitioned’ 34,000 rapid antigen tests originally intended for railway staff in the state.
He shared a screenshot in another post on Saturday, which appeared to show a deal between the federal Department of Health and supplier Motion One for $26.29 million.
Greg Hunt (pictured) said the federal government had not commandeered any rapid antigen tests
Queensland Transport Minister Mark Baily has released details of a $26 million contract between the government and Motion One (pictured), but Mr Hunt and the supplier say the contract does not start until February 7 without test kits yet provided.
“Either Morrison’s government commandeered the stock using emergency powers or came in late with a sizable $26.29 million purchase offer that a supplier could not refuse given the huge profit margin offered,” Bailey tweeted.
But Mr Hunt denied the kits had been diverted from essential workers in Queensland.
“The claims that have been made about the Commonwealth are false. They had been referred to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission because they were false,” he told reporters.
“I have confirmed with the Department of Health that the Commonwealth has not received and does not expect to receive any supplies from this supplier until at least February 7.”
Motion One also denied any tests had been commandeered, saying it had yet to supply a single kit to the federal government.
The company provides Orawell saliva rapid antigen tests which are manufactured by Jiangsu Well Biotech, which in turn is owned by Chinese conglomerate Jinsheng Group.
Queensland MP Mark Baily is furious over claims the Federal Government ‘requisitioned’ 34,000 rapid antigen tests from Queensland Rail
Mr Hunt said the Federal Government was supplying 200,000 rapid antigen tests to Queensland on Saturday and dismissed suggestions it had not planned enough to meet growing demand amid the Omicron surge.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the government was warned months ago of the need for widely available rapid antigen tests.
“This government just hasn’t prepared properly,” he said in Launceston, before visiting a local chemist to talk about the shortage of rapid tests.
Australia has decided to remove the requirement for international arrivals to present a negative PCR test and will instead accept a rapid antigen result within 24 hours of boarding.
Rapid antigen test kits are in short supply with many stockists sold out and huge markups for common tests (pictured: a Sydney chemist in January)
The change is in line with national measures, where rapid antigen tests are accepted as a diagnostic tool.
The period a person can enter the country after testing positive for Covid has also been halved from 14 days to seven, bringing it into line with national isolation requirements.
But entry quarantine requirements remain subject to state and territory restrictions.
Mr Hunt said the changes were “important steps” to help bring Australians home.