Thu. May 26th, 2022

The South Australian Premier will ask the Consumer Watchdog to investigate reports that the Victorian and New South Wales governments have ordered rapid antigen tests on their way to the state.

SA pharmacies and other companies have reported making large rapid antigen test (RAT) orders that have subsequently disappeared.

SA Premier Steven Marshall said that while intergovernmental governments had “completely and utterly completely rejected this as a proposal”, he believed that there should be an independent inquiry into the reports.

“South Australians have every right to be outraged if these allegations are correct,” Mr Marshall told radio station FiveAA this morning.

“Any interference in the delivery of rapid antigen testing to South Australia is completely and utterly unacceptable.”

Marshall said he would write to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) asking to have the matter investigated.

“I think this is the right body if there has been market interference and determined to see if it was legal at all,” he said.

South Australia was the penultimate state to allow the use of RATs after the government overturned a ban on 23 December, but it has been difficult to find them on retail shelves as demand exceeds supply globally.

Close contacts of positive cases can access two RATs for free, but everyone else must buy their own.

Marshall said people wanted access to RATs for a variety of reasons, such as visiting vulnerable family members.

“There are a million uses for these,” he said.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia SA branch president Nick Panayiaris said there were anecdotal reports from retailers that shares were being diverted.

“Our members are really frustrated with being able to obtain these tests,” he said.

“They have been told that their order, which is supposed to be delivered, let’s say, this Friday has suddenly been delayed.

“The only feedback they seem to be getting at the moment is that the plane has been delayed.”

But Mr Panayiaris said that when some retailers had demanded an answer, they had been told that “the plane with stock has basically been acquired by someone else”.

“That’s the concern – who is this one another and why is it that some of this stock can be redirected when in many cases some of this stock has actually been pre-bought,” he said.

A yellow traffic sign with the text
The rapid antigen test collection “supersite” is in the southern park areas of Adelaide.(ABC News: Ben Pettitt)

NSW and Victorian governments have been contacted for comment.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he was unaware that any RATs were being requisitioned from orders en route to South Australia.

“I do not think it is correct, [but] I’m happy to check it out, ”he said.

Sir. Andrews said he had not seen Mr Marshall’s comments, but said it could be the case that Victoria simply placed her orders first.

“I’m not here today to quarrel with Premier Marshall,” he said.

“Everyone is trying to find the same thing at the same time, and it may be in the eye of the beholder whether something has been requisitioned or whether we just got an order in before they did.”

Marshall said South Australia had plenty of RATs to test close contacts and for use in the public service.

He said the state had stockpiled 1.4 million tests and that the government had today placed an order for another 5 million.

SA Health Minister Stephen Wade said while the reports on RAT hoarding were unconfirmed, the government was sufficiently concerned to investigate the matter.

“It’s an extremely worrying event if it happens because one of the most important things to do in a pandemic is to maintain supply chains,” he said.

Sir. Wade said the SA government had an order for 3.6 million tests to arrive in February.

“We have certainly not asked for any orders to be prioritized at the expense of retailers and pharmacies,” he said.

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