Thu. Jun 30th, 2022

The federal government has begun reporting allegations that it diverted supplies for rapid antigen testing (RAT) away from companies to their national warehouse to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Several companies and firms have said they have been told by suppliers that their orders of RATs would be delayed because they had been redirected at the request of the government.

But since the allegations surfaced, Health Department and Health Secretary Greg Hunt have vehemently denied that this was the case, saying the government had never tried to put its orders ahead of anyone else.

Hunt said companies lied to their customers about why their RAT shipments were delayed.

“They’re lying. That’s why I report them to the ACCC,” he said.

“There are some vendors who have honestly overcharged.

“They have passed on to federal, state and community or private purchasers.

“Where these allegations have been made, we refer them to the ACCC.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison reiterated Mr Hunt, stressing that the allegations were false.

In a statement, the health ministry said the allegations they had requisitioned the tests were “categorically untrue”.

“Supplies of RAT kits will not be diverted to the Commonwealth, and the Department has at no time attempted to place itself ahead of other commercial and retail units,” it said.

“If such claims have been made, the department has written to the relevant dealer to assure them that this is not the case, and [to] seek further details or evidence of claims from suppliers.

“The department is in close contact with the ACCC and highlights the pattern of behavior and provides specific examples of such allegations.”

RAT kits are in high demand nationally, with millions of more tests expected to arrive in the coming weeks and months.

In response to the RAT shortage, the Pharmacy Guild is poised to launch a website to help people find chemists near them with stock.

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