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Businesses ‘lying’ about missing RAT orders: Greg Hunt

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Health Minister Greg Hunt has accused businesses of lying about desperately needed supplies of rapid COVID tests being seized by the federal government.

There have been multiple claims from Australian businesses that they have been told by wholesalers that orders of rapid tests for workplaces have been diverted to fulfil government orders.

On Wednesday, the South Australian government also said it had asked regulators to investigate reports of its RATs had been improperly diverted to other states.

But in Canberra on Thursday Mr Hunt emphatically denied suppliers’ claims that orders of the scarce tests were being requisitioned by the government.

“They are lying. That is why I am reporting them to the ACCC,” he said.

“There are people in the market that will make statements and promises and not be able to deliver. What we are seeing is that, whether it is Commonwealth, state or territories, or community or private sector, that some suppliers have overcommitted and not been able to deliver.”

There have been multiple reports in recent weeks, as Australia’s Omicron outbreak has spiralled and the PCR testing system began to buckle, that business orders of the crucial saliva tests were failing to arrive – despite being paid for in full.

Last week, Queensland Rail said it had been told an order of 20,000 tests would not be fulfilled, while a Victorian business said it had been told its bulk order for its staff had been seized.

Retailers such as Werko, Star Hygiene and HiCraft have also blamed federal government requisition of RATs on arrival in Australia for delays in filling orders, according to a report in the Financial Review on Wednesday.

A statement on medical supplier Werko’s website on Thursday. Image: Werko.com.au

SA Premier Steven Marshall also said he had written to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission boss Rod Sims asking him to investigate reports some tests bound for his state had been improperly diverted.

He said the NSW and Victorian governments had denied requisitioning tests at Sydney and Melbourne airports.

“If these allegations prove correct, it’s quite possible that they are illegal, anti-competitive and, of course, they’re a massive kick in the guts for South Australia,” Mr Marshall said.

But Mr Hunt said there was a global shortage of the crucial tests, and some suppliers were making wild claims.

He said the Commonwealth had supplied 6.1 million tests to aged care, and was beginning supply them to states and territories to hand out.

“We are seeing more supplies coming in through the system, where we use defence transport and logistics support to work with the private sector and the states,” he said.

“We are expecting to see 60 million movements in Australia over the coming weeks for the Commonwealth, state and community purposes.”

Tweet from @DanielAndrewsMP

 

Earlier this week, Pharmacy Guild national president Professor Trent Twomey said his members were struggling to secure stock, and many had had orders delayed.

But, he told Guardian Australia, that reports from members that stock was being requisitioned by governments could not be substantiated.

Instead, he said, requests for big orders, worth millions, from governments – both state and federal – were hard for suppliers to ignore.

Victoria announced on Thursday it had ordered a further 166 million rapid tests, on top of a bulk order for 44 million tests earlier this month.

NSW this week increased its order of rapid tests to 150 million as it planned for surveillance testing of 1.3 million school students with the beginning of the school year.

-with AAP

The post Businesses ‘lying’ about missing RAT orders: Greg Hunt appeared first on The New Daily.

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