Fired-up Barnaby Joyce blasts Annastacia Palaszczuk as ‘dictatorial’ for requiring PCR entry tests for visitors and says Omicron ‘is not a big issue’
- Queensland is requiring visitors to show negative Covid tests before entering
- The move has massively increased wait times at testing centres in NSW
- NSW state and Federal Government want Queensland to remove requirement
- But Ms Palaszczuk has said she will not budge on the rules until January 1
Barnaby Joyce has blasted Annastacia Palaszczuk for not removing test requirements for travellers entering Queensland.
The Deputy Prime Minister said the Premier was acting like a dictator for refusing to budge as NSW residents continue to face huge testing queues.
The NSW Government and the Federal Government are both urging Ms Palaszczuk to let travellers take 15-minute rapid antigen tests which can be done at home instead of supervised PCR tests before entering.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured) has said she will not budge on the rules until January 1
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard says lab capacity and staff time is being taken up by testing perfectly healthy travellers, meaning wait times are being pushed out, deterring sick people from getting a swab.
Testing of symptomatic people is one of Australia’s key defences against Covid but is being compromised by unnecessary travel testing, according to Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly.
Premier Palaszczuk has admitted 10 per cent of NSW tests are for people travelling to Queensland but she has refused to change her policy until at least January 1 – even though South Australia removed its testing requirement.
Mr Joyce said she needs to change the system as soon as possible.
‘Queensland is beautiful one day, run by Premier Palaszczuk the next,’ he told Sunrise on Tuesday morning.
‘The whole point is this is creating chaos. They should be using rapid antigen testing. They should be thinking their way around this.’
Cars line up along Campbell Parade ahead of the opening of the COVID-19 testing clinic at Bondi Beach on December 28
Mr Joyce said the testing requirement makes no sense when Queensland recorded 1,158 cases on Tuesday and is living with Covid.
‘They’ve got thousands of cases in Queensland. Thousands. So this is just out of control. They should be able to do a rapid antigen test. They say they’ll bring it in on the first (of January). It’s the 28th, what are we waiting for?
‘What will happen on the 29th or the 30th or the 31st that they cannot do today? Alignment of the planets? It is dictatorial process that Annastacia Palaszczuk is doing.’
Mr Joyce, who caught Covid in the UK earlier this month and recovered with only minor symptoms said: ‘I have had COVID. Omicron, is not a big issue, it really isn’t.’
On Monday Mr Hazzard called the Queensland requirement ‘stupid’.
He accused the Sunshine State leader of playing ‘raw politics’ by insisting all arrivals present negative PCRs tests, despite the demand putting huge strain on healthcare services.
NSW has seen more than 600,000 PCR tests conducted since Christmas Eve, with one quarter of all swabs given to healthy travellers looking to hop the border for a summer getaway.
HOW CAN I GET A COVID TEST QUICKLY?
A good option to avoid lining up at a Covid testing facility for hours is to book an appointment with a private clinic for a specific time.
Many of them offer free testing or Medicare rebates.
While a large number of them may be closed over the holiday period and that ones that are opened are fully booked out, there are steps you can take to get a swab.
Almost every clinic has a standby service that allows you to be called in if someone makes a last minute cancellation.
If you contact your local private clinic performing PCR tests, you can be notified when a person fails to show up and take their spot.
Websites such as HotDoc can also be monitored for any cancellations at private clinics, most of whom offer free testing appointments.