Labor cuts access to free Rapid Antigen Tests for concession card holders in Western Sydney

Friday, 15 July 2022

The Albanese Government has decided to restrict access to free Rapid Antigen Tests for concession card holders in Western Sydney, including in Macarthur, Parramatta and Macquarie, despite surging case numbers and rising cost-of-living pressures.

The change will see Commonwealth concession card holders, including pensioners and veterans, unable to access free Rapid Antigen Tests from 1 August 2022 through the Concessional Access Program.

Labor has made the decision against the advice of key stakeholders and experts, including the Australian Medical Association, The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.

Dr Mike Freelander, the Labor Member for Macarthur in South Western Sydney, has also called on the Albanese Government to “reconsider” axing the Concessional Access Program.

Liberal Senator for Western Sydney, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, said the federal government must explain why the Concessional Access Program was being dumped.

“Labor have said we’re facing a ‘winter wave’ of COVID-19, yet they’re pulling the rug from under vulnerable Australians who need access to free rapid antigen tests,” Senator Payne said.

“The Minister for Health must outline what expert advice has formed the basis of his decision to end the Concessional Access Program.”

The decision comes on top of Labor also deciding to end the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.

These payments, introduced by the Morrison Government, provided up to $750 for people who missed work after testing positive for COVID-19, while isolating as a close contact or caring for a positive case.

“Now is not the time to be making it harder for people to get tested and make ends meet,” Senator Payne said.

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