RATs eat Morrison alive

Chalk up another epic fail for our useless PM:

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has plans to launch its own website to help people find stores stocked with rapid antigen tests after witnessing “market failure” and the competition watchdog’s crackdown on price gouging.

…The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has received more than 1,800 consumer reports about the self-administered testing kits since Christmas Day with 90 per cent concerned about pricing.

…On Monday, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said 5.6 million tests had been provided to aged care facilities, and that 70 million more would arrive “over the coming weeks and months”.

Professor Twomey said it was not until late December that national cabinet formed a consensus view to “acknowledge rapid antigen tests”.

“It was too late,” he said.

…He said that had resulted in a “market failure” because demand was outstripping supply.

Desperate times call for desperate measures:

Pharmacies are going to “extreme lengths” to obtain rapid antigen tests for customers, with some even banding together to charter flights from China, the nation’s pharmacy guild has confirmed.

“Pharmacies are doing whatever they can to source rapid antigen test (RAT) kits as soon as possible, to meet the demands of patients and customers,” said Anthony Tassone, the guild’s Victorian president.

“Some pharmacies are going to extreme lengths,” he said. “The guild has heard of some instances of chartering a flight, but this is not common because pharmacies are small businesses and don’t necessarily have the means to do this.”

Bernard Keane sums the failure:

Under the traditional Canberra model of public policy, the issue of the impact of reopening the economy on the workforce and supply chains would have been dealt with something like this.

Once national cabinet had agreed on a reopening plan driven by vaccination rates, with modelling showing a big rise in infections but not of hospitalisations and deaths, Scott Morrison and the department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) would have coordinated an existing, or new if necessary, inter-departmental committee to assess the likely impacts of a sharp rise in infections, not merely on the workforce but on education, on health care and on supply chains.

Departments like Infrastructure, Health, Industry, Home Affairs and Workplace Relations would have been involved. Industry and perhaps unions would have been consulted. This would have led to a briefing on expected impacts and solutions.

National cabinet could then consider what planning needed to be done jointly, and it would become the basis for a submission to Scott Morrison’s own cabinet on what Commonwealth actions were required in those areas where it had direct responsibility — primary health care, aged care, logistics, border control, industrial relations. Ministers could have had a clear basis on which to make decisions about, for example, what to do if large numbers of workers in key sectors called in sick in the context of a reopening economy.

Pretty simple stuff. But it didn’t happen, or if it did, Morrison and his cabinet ignored it. Industry and health providers were actually ahead of the government: the Australian Medical Association warned Health of the need for a strategy to secure supplies of rapid antigen tests in September, only to be rebuffed by bureaucrats who claimed the government didn’t want to intervene in the market.

This one policy failure alone has ensured tens of billions in economic harm, health distress and death.

Treasurer Frydenberg did the usual. Blame the unions!

Senior figures in the Morrison government have accused the union movement of “fearmongering” after the ACTU threatened strike action over access to rapid antigen tests.

The government’s counter-­attack, led by Josh Frydenberg, came as Australia’s peak medical advisory body looks into dropping the isolation period for Covid-positive people from seven days to five days amid signs the Omicron wave could be peaking.

Yep, let’s make more folks sick with no testing, hammered hospitals, and the economy reeling. That’ll fix it!

The problem is, business agrees with the unions:

Small business owners say they will not be able to absorb the cost of providing rapid antigen tests (RATs) to potentially COVID-exposed employees and are calling on the federal government to subsidise the tests.

In fact, everybody agrees with the unions:

As a political fight escalates over test shortages and price gouging, the exclusive findings show 86 per cent of Australians believe the rapid tests should be free or subsidised in some way.

So, what does Morrison do? Lies and gaslights of course!

Health Minister Greg Hunt claims it is “dangerous” to provide free rapid antigen tests to all Australians, as their use could blow out to 10 million a day, taking supply away from those most in need.

As LVO suggested, if that worries you, then put a small charge on them to prevent hoarding. But still, heavily subsidise and regulate supply to ensure the smooth running of everything.

Morrison can’t do it because there are no RATs to do it with. The government failed again to anticipate the need for this basic tool for reopening. Morrison would rather gaslight than implicitly acknowledge another extraordinary blunder.

So, we’re free to not test, free to spread Morrison’s plague, free to shut down the economy, and free to kill the vulnerable, instead of getting a few free RATs to prevent it all because you can’t be trusted with your freedom!

Morrison needs the Joker back and fast.

Houses and Holes


  1. You take a mortal man
    And put him in control
    Watch him become a god
    Watch peoples heads a ‘roll
    A ‘roll, a ‘roll

    Just like the pie eating piper
    Fled with RATs through the streets
    We dance like Morrisonettes
    Swaying to the symphony of destruction

  2. According to Crikey, the bright idea from Jim Chalmers was to means test RATs. You couldn’t make it up.

    • Arthur Schopenhauer

      Charmers is a neoliberal shill. He’s only ever worked as a political staffer.

      The sort of work experience we don’t need in the Australian Parliament.

      All “narrative” and “polls”. Totally out of touch.

      Just a regular political stooge. FFS he did his PhD on Paul Keating!

      Be Independent. Vote Independent.

    • A better question is why are we still all expected to sign in everywhere we go like good little children, to then get an alert that changes absolutely nothing but we just continue as normal and then do something if we get symptoms. exactly the same as if we didn’t get a notification.

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      For once we agree Reusa.
      I refuse to buy one single RAT.
      If the drive through testing facility I go to for free doesn’t have to big a que then I’ll get a tested otherwise No I won’t.

    • “The government failed again to anticipate the need for this basic tool for reopening.”

      Find myself strangely suggesting HH is not dark enough… for once. If you are going to ‘let it rip’ as a govt do you really want a good account of the numbers in the lead up to an election? Why would they want to finance more tests that make them look even more criminally negligent and sociopathic than most already suspect?

  3. Wilhelm Von WobblecockMEMBER

    There was actually an Australian manufacturer that approached them months ago and told them they would need them and also offered to sell exclusively to the Australian government. They said no they didn’t need them and now they are selling them to the USA haha.

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      That’s because they are no connected to someone in the Liberal Party. Look up Pantonic Health.

  4. Deliberate and purpose built chaos projected by shrewd operators feigning ineptitude.
    Endless tumult is required for the goals to be met.

  5. Mining BoganMEMBER

    Vietnam charges $4 per test, but they’ve had their price gouging problems too.

    Actual rats were about $5 a kilo last time I was there so that sounds about right.

  6. “The government failed again to anticipate the need for this basic tool for reopening.”

    Bit simplistic don’t you think? Given most states were flat out refusing to accept them what was the course of action here? order 200m of them and have them sitting on a dock… followed by every ALP state leader and the opposition accusing you of wasting money on ‘sub standard, un reliable testing’ at the expense of other resources?

    Sure, drawing the line on RAT costs vs the insane cost of PCR appears to be a silly choice but I’m not convinced that a ‘small cost’ would not have been slammed as well given a $5 fee to visit a GP was branded as the end of Medicare.

    The partisan hindsight hyperbole is getting a bit OTT.

    • Health policy is driven from the top down. There are endless interviews with local RAT manufacturers that say that Health was waiting for ATAGI; and ATAGI was waiting for a change in policy from the Government.

      The states couldn’t have done anything with RATS until they were formally endorsed by the Fed Government. Which is the entire point of all the valid criticism: way too slow, way too late, not enough purchased to meet demand. A colossal failure of public health policy by LNP. Again.

      • The states (or Cth) could have looked to what was happening O/S with RATs and hedged/managed the risk by getting some, for the low relative cost (cf. where we are now).

        I bought a bunch before Xmas just in cases, and here we are.

      • Where is the evidence of that? Every press conference I watched it was made clear it was a state decision (going it alone as per the above comment).

        RAT tests were raised multiple times and I never once heard a premier and CHO put there hands up and say “oh we want them but they cant be used yet”. QLD was asked on multiple occasion about RAT tests for their borer and the categorically ruled it out as THEY did not feel the this style of test was good enough, again, making it clear it was they and only they who would make a call on that.

        That’s not to detract from other federal policy failures but to sit here and suggest that the states just sat around and waited for top down direction is laughable BS. EVERY state made it crystal clear that they would act on their own “health advice” when it came to testing, borders, quarantine etc should they so wish and where legally permitted, would march to their own drum largely irrespective of any conflict with federal or other state actions. That is still the case today.

  7. RATs from China? They’ll be duds like everything else that comes out of China. Probably toxic, in fact.

  8. Without taking away from other comments…

    What is missing here is a discussion of the true cost of a RAT. What are the real resources that are consumed in each one? Does it take a barrel of crude oil to make one test? If so that mean each RAT means we can drive 1000km less.

    Does it take 24 man hours to make a RAT? If so there is no physical way we can test each person more than once a day. Each worker would spend all their time construction the test that they take. Even worse if you consider sleeping and eating and other needs.

    I would take a guess that very little real resources go into a RAT. Then the questions is why can’t we simply make them as common and cheap as those face masks we all wear?

    I don’t like the idea of being dependent on plane loads of stuff flying here from China in the nick of time. Important things should be sourced from nearby, reliable and friendly (environmentally and politically) places.

    • TailorTrashMEMBER

      Surprised the army doesn’t buy its bullets from China …..as Gladys would say ,we have to as we don’t make them here …..oh and they are cheaper

      Straya is on borrowed time ……

    • there are multiple RAT manufacturers locally. They were pointedly ignored by Health and the Government until very late last year. By which time they had all signed up large, long term supply contracts with overseas governments.

      there is no spare manufacturing capacity to produce them locally at the current time. How good is Australia ? How good is Scotty and Greg ?

  9. Arthur Schopenhauer

    About 42,000 rapid, at-home Covid-19 tests worth more than $500,000 have been stolen from a depot in Sydney… NSW police were called after man walked into the freight depot in Mascot on Tuesday afternoon and “took possession” of the tests.

    Who could’ve known maladministration creates black markets. Left or Right, this is third world governance.

  10. Lol in a months time we will drop RATs as a tool to manage this pandemic. But will be fun to watch the hysteria in the mean time. No one has explained clearly the benefits of a RAT. It won’t slow omi one iota.

    • “No one has explained clearly the benefits of a RAT.”
      To make the populace feel better and ease the transition to no testing at all rather than an abrupt stop.

      I also can’t help but point out that no one in the government has explained anything about covid clearly ever.

  11. happy valleyMEMBER

    So the Beetrooter has belatedly popped the question to Miss Vicki – who could give a RAT’s? Just like who could give a RAT’s to SFM and Jen’s 32nd wedding anniversary?