Australians will to be forced pay $145 EACH to enter Queensland after Annastacia Palaszczuk reopens borders – as Pauline Hanson moves to BAN vaccine mandates and calls the PM ‘weak’
- The Queensland Government will finally reopen its border from mid-December
- But anyone who enters the state will be forced to pay $145 to get a Covid test
- The state’s Covid roadmap states any TGA-approved tests should be sufficient
- The new rule has sparked criticism, with calls for the government to pay for it
Visitors to Queensland will have to pay $145 for a PCR test to prove they are Covid-free once borders re-open – with Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government refusing to allow use of the far cheaper – and fully approved – rapid antigen tests.
Queensland will reopen for tourists once 80 per cent of its vaccine-eligible residents are double-jabbed – which could be as early as December 6.
But Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said inbound travellers will have to fork out for the gold-standard PCR Covid test from a private clinic, with costs starting from $145 per person.
The insistence on the PCR tests – which will be required for anyone over 16 – comes despite Queensland’s Covid roadmap stating tests approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration – such as the rapid antigen tests – would be sufficient.
There are a dozen different brands of rapid antigen tests – priced $7 to $20 – already TGA-approved and available in chemists.
‘We don’t want to swap tests just because one might be cheaper,’ Ms D’Ath said.
While foreign visitors to Australia must get a PCR test to enter the country, Queensland is imposing the cost on fellow citizens whereas other ‘open’ states like NSW and Victoria do not.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured) will open Queensland’s borders in mid-December once 80 per cent of the state’s population is fully-vaccinated
Acting chief health officer Peter Aitken said PCR tests should be used in conjunction with rapid tests – which are more effective when there was a higher number of Covid-19 cases in the community.
‘To put it roughly, rapid antigen tests are about 70 per cent as effective as PCR,’ Dr Aitken said.
‘Queensland currently has four active cases – we want to identify every case and not miss 30 per cent, so we will continue to use PCR tests at this stage.’
‘[With rapid antigen tests] you miss the early stages of the disease and the later stages of disease, which means you don’t detect Covid in people until they are much further into disease.’
Ms D’Ath said the federal government should look at subsidising costs for the mandatory swabs through Medicare – putting further impost on non-Queenslanders to pay for the testing through taxes.
Anyone who enters the state when the borders open will need to pay $145 for a PCR Covid-19 test
But opposition Leader David Crisafulli said the state government should foot the bill because it is their policy.
‘The state government should stop passing the buck and help get Queenslanders home – that test could be done by the state and paid for by the state,’ he said on Sunday.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt’s office also slammed Ms D’Ath’s suggestion, pointing out that Queensland had agreed to split the cost of Covid testing for people without symptoms since early in the pandemic.
‘The Commonwealth has spent over $1.87 billion on pathology testing throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, we would welcome Queensland announcing their investment into pathology,’ a spokesman said.
‘The Commonwealth funds 100 per cent per cent of Medicare funded tests and 50 per cent of state-based tests.
Acting chief health officer Peter Aitken said rapid tests should be used in conjunction with PCR tests. Pictured: A health worker swabs a member of the public for Covid-19 at a drive through testing clinic on October 1 in Brisbane
‘It is surprise that Queensland is seeking to walk away from their responsibilities and their own decision, reducing their own expenditure on Covid safety.’
Queensland recorded no new Covid cases on Sunday, with latest figures showing 84.35 per cent of eligible residents have had one jab and 73.06 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Earlier this month, the state reopened its borders to fully-vaccinated NSW and Victorians residents although strict rules – including 14 days of quarantine and travel limitations – still apply.
The restrictions will be dropped when the 80 per cent double dose milestone is reached around mid-December.