The chairman of the Australian Council of Trade Unions wrote a letter to the Prime Minister calling for rapid antigen testing to be made free for all Australians.
Sky News Australia discussed the issue with ACTU Acting Secretary Liam O’Brien, who said this was the second time the union has asked the Prime Minister to act on rapid antigen testing .
“In October, unions and businesses called on the government to introduce a rapid testing program for small and medium-sized businesses because we know it is an essential tool in keeping workplaces safe… and open, ”Mr. O’Brien said.
Mr O’Brien criticized the Prime Minister’s cash payment program for rapid antigen testing for low-income people as a “half-measure” response that came “too little, too late”.
The Prime Minister will present a new plan today to the National Cabinet providing funding to low-income people, social assistance recipients and retirees to pay for COVID testing at home.
The program will fund up to five kits for each person and will be deployed through the same mechanism as the COVID disaster payments.
Residents will need to apply for the grant and pass an eligibility test before receiving an immediate cash payment.
“It’s like the half-measures we have had from this government throughout the pandemic – it’s too little too late,” O’Brien said.
“Right now we are seeing an increase in cases, we are seeing businesses being forced to shut down or reduce their hours because they cannot access staff – this program will do nothing to curb this problem. “
He said the government must make the TAR free for all Australians, especially for essential workers.