Labor leader doesn’t give RATs about facts

Jeremy Rockliff,Minister for Health

Once again, Labor leader Ms White has embarrassed the entire State Opposition by making baseless accusations after failing to do her due diligence. The facts are that rapid antigen tests (RATs) have never been more accessible for Tasmanians who need them.

Importantly, Tasmania has more than six million RATs on order for a total supply of 7.5 million, with 850,000 of those recently arriving in the State and provided to those most vulnerable in our community.

The Tasmanian Government has provided an interim supply of RATs on a fee-for-service basis for the Australian Antarctic Division under the Centre for Antarctic Remote and Maritime Medicine Partnership (CARMM) to ensure that Antarctica remains COVID-19 free.

These tests will be used to ensure that Covid is not carried onto any of the three vessels operated by the AAD during this important summer season. The vessels are deployed to carry vital supplies and passengers to Antarctica, re-supplying essential supplies of fuel, provisions and conducting an exchange of personnel. This is particularly important after the pandemic has led to a reduction in supply deployment in the last season.

This is not a tender but advice of procurement action to reimburse the Tasmanian Government for the cost of the 2,000 RATs provided.

The CARMM partnership has been a long-standing collaboration between the Australian Department of Agriculture Water and the Environment, the Australian Antarctic Division, the Tasmanian Department of Health, Tasmanian Health Services, the University of Tasmanian School of Medicine, Menzies Research Centre, and the Department of State Growth.

The Tasmanian Government recognises the important work that the AAD does and providing an interim supply of RATs will ensure that they can continue to undertake this critical work.

Let me be clear, the Tasmanian Government maintains a sufficient supply for current and projected demand.

The Tasmanian Government has carefully managed its stocks of RATs to ensure their distribution is prioritised appropriately, including the provision of 65,000 RATs to Tasmania’s aged care sector on behalf of the Australian Government, as well as 3,500 for NDIS participants and 4,500 for Aboriginal Health organisations.

We have continued to work with the community care sector to ensure that they can continue to provide support for our most vulnerable during this time. This includes the provision of an interim supply of 8,000 RATs to support essential community sector workers and volunteers. Community service organisations can apply through TasCOSS by visiting:

The Tasmanian Government will continue to support our critical workers and volunteers who dedicate their work and time to protecting the health and safety of all Tasmanians.

Rapid antigen tests (RATs) are available for Tasmanians who are symptomatic or a designated close contact and are free in the same way that PCR testing has been. Those who need tests can register and collect at one of our distribution points without any queues. Our new contactless delivery scheme is also working well for those in remote or regional areas where they can be delivered within 24 hours.

Importantly, PCR testing remains available for people who require it, with significant capacity currently available at State PCR Testing Clinics for anyone with symptoms, a close contact, or having trouble accessing or using a Rapid Antigen Test. A PCR test can be booked for a state-run clinic online or by calling the Public Health Hotline.

Lazy Labor should check their facts before distributing inaccurate information to the Tasmanian public, which only serves to scare people during what is for many an anxious time.

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