Member for Farrer Sussan Ley believes low-cost Rapid Antigen Testing (R.A.T.) should be the tool used by Victoria and NSW to end any future border closures and complex travel restrictions between the two states.
Welcoming news the TGA is set to approve tests for home use, Ms Ley says both state governments need to work on a unified approach to accept negative rapid test results to allow border economic activity and daily life to resume and remain in place.
Having already pushed the case for wider use of rapid testing, I have already approached Health Minister Greg Hunt asking how we can ensure R.A.T. kits can be made available and affordable to business and members of the public through the PBS.
NSW and Victoria now need to play their part in mending our fractured state border by working together on a mirror image use policy and consider subsidising the distribution cost to businesses and local residents on the border.
Existing PCR testing, with delayed results, has already cost millions in productivity for our two-state region, as well as enormous stress on those who need to cross the Murray on a daily basis.
Transport businesses and contract harvesters are struggling to access COVID test sites to gain a negative test, construction teams are barred from working interstate, school children have been prevented from attending their interstate classroom, and families denied a visit to loved ones.
The tourism sector along the border must get visitors back from Melbourne to survive into 2022, but I really fear a few cases emerging in a place like Moama or Mulwala for example will again see Victorians stopped from entering NSW. Carrying a negative R.A.T. result will give both guests and operators confidence a venue is as COVID-safe as possible.
Both state governments acknowledge their border communities have borne a disproportionate cost caused by myriad state health orders – it’s now time for them to help repair the damage.
Adopting rapid testing as a comparatively cost-efficient way to keep this virus from entering either state can make that happen much sooner.