Shadow Minister for Health, Bill Yan, says the Gunner Labor Government has serious questions to answer over why it is spending $130 million – which is more than 10 percent of the NT’s hospital budget – on Rapid Antigen Tests, according to a public tender released today.
“There’s no doubt the Territory is experiencing a widespread shortage of RAT kits, but we question whether the NT needs close to 30,000 Rapid Antigen Tests every day for the next 12 months.
“Based on a $12 retail price, $130 million will get the Gunner Labor Government more than 10.8 million tests – which roughly equates to 29, 680 tests per day over the next year.
“To put this amount into perspective, $130 million is equivalent to:
- 11.2% of the hospital budget 2021/22
- More than double alcohol and other drug treatment 2021/22
- Almost the same amount as remote primary health care 2021/22
- Half of all primary health care budget 2021/22
- Almost six times the budget for the National Critical Care and Trauma Response in 2021/22
“Currently, business have to source their own RAT kits for essential workers; young children and non-essential workers are only required to test if they are close contacts or symptomatic; the Gunner Government scrapped testing requirements for interstate travellers; and for 28 days after you have exited isolation, you are not required to get tested or undertake isolation if you are a close contact.
“So why does the NT Government think we need this many additional RAT kits? A testing regime of close to 30,000 Territorians every day for the next 12 months seems excessive. How long with the current rules be in place? Is NT Labor planning to change them?
“Does this mean the business, non-government schools and childcare centres which has forked out hundreds of thousands of dollars have wasted their money? Will Government reimburse them?
“Issues like this are the reason the CLP is preparing legislation to implement a regular reporting schedule during an emergency health declaration. Territorians deserve to know what that advice is being given to government – and how government is implementing that advice.
“The CLP is also submitting a range of questions, through a formal Parliamentary process, such as:
- How many Rapid Antigen Tests were supplied and delivered to Northern Territory Government Agencies in the 2021/22 financial year to date?
- What was the total cost of supply and delivery of Rapid Antigen Tests to Northern Territory Government Agencies in the 2021/22 financial year to date?
- Tender Number D22-0008 estimates a price range of $110m-$130m for supply and delivery of Rapid Antigen Tests for 12 months to NT Government agencies. How many tests is this expected to secure in total?
- Are there any planned or anticipated changes to testing requirements in the next 12 months?
“The public want openness, transparency and a Government that won’t hide from scrutiny – and that is why scrutiny of Labor’s COVID decisions is so important. If the Gunner Government have nothing to hide, they will answer these questions – and support our Bill,” said Mr Yan.