Qld health minister blasts PM over RAT ad

Laine Clark |

The Queensland health minister says it is “absolutely appalling” that a federal government advertisement is spruiking free rapid antigen tests and has demanded an apology from the prime minister.

Yvette D’Ath took aim at Scott Morrison, saying it is “irresponsible” for the Commonwealth health department video to claim millions of free RATs are available at state testing clinics because Queensland has not yet received their supply.

She said 100,000 were due on Wednesday but only half were suitable for the public to use at testing clinics.

On a day Queensland announced its biggest daily COVID-19 toll with 16 deaths, Ms D’Ath didn’t hold back over Mr Morrison’s “self serving” 30-second ad.

“To actually be running these (ads) knowing that there is not enough supply at our public testing clinics … is irresponsible,” she said on Tuesday.

“It is not Scott Morrison who is standing there at these testing clinics having to deal with the abuse of people who are unhappy because they can’t get a free test.

“To run these ads now, knowing this, is just … absolutely appalling and Scott Morrison should be apologising.”

The ad says more than 70 million RATs have been secured by the federal government and are available for free at testing facilities – for close contacts, people with symptoms or those instructed to test – “making it easier for all people to get them in the coming weeks”.

“I think those ads are very self serving, highly political and it is about Morrison positioning himself to look good in the lead-up to an election,” Ms D’Ath said.

“If you have a look at the ad there is a lot of chest beating. That is a bit rich that the Commonwealth is spending taxpayers’ dollars running ads about what the state public testing clinics are providing.

“We are the ones doing all the hard work here. If you are going to spend money, spend it on securing more tests for us.”

Ms D’Ath was frustrated that 50,000 RATs due on Wednesday were “point-of-care” tests that are administered by health care staff.

“Only half of these are going to be helpful as far as providing a free test for people,” she said.

The health minister also hit out at the Commonwealth amid reports GPs were struggling to secure vaccine supplies, saying she was concerned about the number of aged care residents who had not received boosters.

“That’s the Commonwealth’s responsibility. They are dropping the ball at the most critical time,” she said.

“We have heard from the Commonwealth time and time again (that) there is no issue with vaccine supply so why isn’t it getting to the pharmacies and GPs quick enough?”

Of Queensland’s 45 deaths since December 13, 17 were in aged care facilities.

Only one of the 45 had received a booster shot.

“When it comes to aged care, again this is a Commonwealth responsibility … to get those vaccines into aged care and disability facilities – that is their job,” Ms D’Ath said.