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Rapid Antigen Test scandal reveals Morrison’s cruelty

On January 5 2022, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that he would make Rapid Antigen Tests freely available to concession cardholders.

This change of heart followed days of sustained criticism and soaring prices, as R.A.T.s became increasingly scarce and some retailers took advantage of the shortage to price gouge.

Australia, Morrison made clear, would not be joining other Western countries such as the UK and the U.S. in providing free tests to their populations. That would, he and his ministers claimed, lead to hoarding and wastage, and people misusing them for “social reasons”.

Like me, you might have been labouring under the misapprehension that the purpose of R.A.T.s is social, in the sense of individuals taking responsibility for the larger society in which we live. We use R.A.T.s (or would, if we could get them) to ensure we aren’t infected with COVID-19 before we go out and about, mingling with family, friends and strangers.

They are the cornerstone (or would be, if we could get them) of personal responsibility, that moral virtue urged upon us by a government itself so bereft of moral virtue and responsibility, personal and collective, that one can only howl with bitter mirth when they speak these words out loud.

No doubt many people felt some small relief when we heard the Prime Minister appear to soften his hard stance and announce that those with concession cards of one kind or another would be able to access R.A.T.s free from their pharmacy. People already financially challenged would not have to go without the vital tests, however, the working poor without concession cards are, as usual, cast into outer darkness. No free tests for you.

Morrison’s neoliberal Pentecostal prosperity ideology continues to operate from the premise that if you haven’t got enough money, you’ve nobody to blame but yourself.

However, on Monday we learned that the Government is not going to supply the R.A.T.s to pharmacies. Instead, pharmacies must source their own supply, give them without charge to those eligible and then claim the costs back from the Government via a structure that is yet to be determined.

Whether or not pharmacies are willing to do this remains to be seen. They can hardly be blamed if they don’t. Anecdotally, several people have reported on social media that their pharmacists have said they cannot supply the tests to the eligible if those tests are not supplied to them by the Government.

The possibility of free tests seems less and less likely. Indeed, it seems to be just one more Morrison announcement without substance.

It would be easy if the Federal Government simply supplied pharmacies with the tests. After all, Morrison and his ministers have access to as many as they need whenever they need them for free despite their substantial salaries and presumably they are able to extend this rare privilege to their families and close associates.

However, as we have seen repeatedly throughout this pandemic, the Federal Government operates on the premise that everything must be as difficult and complicated and slow as possible, and must require minimum outlay of public money. This is not because it endeavours to be responsible with public monies entrusted to them, but because they wish to retain as much as possible for rorts, election campaigning and military hardware. In other words, everything they can use to their own advantage and not yours.

In a move eerily echoing the priorities of dictatorships rather than democracies – on the same morning as we discovered that free tests will not be available as we thought, that many places are without adequate food supplies and that extremely ill people are being treated in hospital car parks – Defence Minister Peter Dutton announced he has committed to spending $3.5 billion on tanks, as well as assorted accessories.

That any government would refuse to make free tests available to financially disadvantaged citizens is both scandalous and bitterly cruel. That any government would announce free tests and simultaneously make it almost impossible for them to be accessed is nothing short of sadistic.

No doubt over the next days, we will hear Morrison declare that he’s offered the tests and it’s up to the pharmacies to source them and claim a refund. If they aren’t prepared to do that, he’ll say, then they’re the ones depriving people of R.A.T.s.

It writes itself, doesn’t it? We’ve heard it so many times since this pandemic began. “I don’t hold the R.A.T.s, mate” is but the next manifestation.




This article was originally published on Independent Australia.


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  1. Phil Pryor

    A rancid, righteous religious, raving rotten ratbag is as low as an ant’s anus, and Morrison is lower, cavernously subterranean. The nation’s current record and its history is now smeared pungent brown by this politically perverted prossy, plant for donors, paying interests, patrons, parasites. Government by institutional stupidity, favouritism, cronyism, glaring unfairness, is rotting the nation’s faith and ability. We once tolerated some time serving slow dummies, but vigorous crooked loudmouthed schemers are FILTH.

  2. Baby Jewels

    Watch them put off the election until the very last minute, while dishing out the $16b slush fund for the election, and Australians will forget the daily revelations of lies, broken promises, rorts, corruption, theft, cruelty, poor treatment of women, and the worst covid management in the first world. And Labor will use virtually none of this to push their cause, except their tired, old “It’s not a race!” accusation. No faith in the voting population or our Opposition to unseat the worst government in history.

  3. Kate Ahearne

    Thanks, Jennifer. You put it so well.

  4. GL

    Not cruelty but stupidity, arrogance, self-interest and malignant self-righteousness.

  5. Sully of Broken Hill

    And when actually will Pensioners be able to access these free RATs?
    Don’t tell me, not until Labor wins the Federal Election, and the real LNP RATS are kicked out of Canberra.

  6. Garth

    More of the same.

  7. PeterF

    Price gouging is profiteering. Please us plain English. I have given up being angry at the behaviour of this disastrous mob: I now have total contempt.

  8. Terence Mills

    Morrison, when questioned also said the requirement to get tested will be the same for people who have symptoms or who are a confirmed close contact (new definition from last week: someone who you have been in a ‘household-like’ setting for more than four hours). They will still present at a testing centre as usual for free testing.

    “If you are not a close contact, if you are not symptomatic, you do not need to get a test,” Mr Morrison said.

    So, that seems to mean that RAT testing is free for anybody who needs it – is that right ?

  9. Bill Spragg

    Making promises that sound altruistic but have so many strings attached that almost no-one can qualify for them have been standard behaviour for LNP governments since John Howard. Sociologist have described Labor as using a materialistic/mothering approach to governing while LNP use a paternalistic/fathering approach to governing. Mothers are caring while fathers dish out the punishment. Seems all too true now days.

  10. pierre wilkinson

    ” the Federal Government operates on the premise that everything must be as difficult and complicated and slow as possible, and must require minimum outlay of public money. This is not because it endeavours to be responsible with public monies entrusted to them, but because they wish to retain as much as possible for rorts, election campaigning and military hardware. In other words, everything they can use to their own advantage and not yours.”
    sums up this pathetic incompetence masquerading as a government

  11. New England Cocky

    The only democratic process for removing the Scummo et al Liarbral Nazional$ fascist misgovernment is for every Australian voter to:
    and we may just save Australian democracy for our grandkids.

  12. GL

    Anyone else get the feeling that Scummo and Crony Co. Inc. are dragging the Djokovic situation out as big distraction to try and shift attention from their ongoing firetruck ups with the current Covid crisis that they helped create? Then again, I might be crediting them with the intelligence they don’t have to come up with such a scheme.

  13. Ross

    Rats, well I don’t give a rats and couldn’t give a rat’s arse.
    There’s rats in the ranks and they are all up a drain pipe good and proper.
    Aren’t those sewer rats up shit creek now, bloody clueless Rattus Norvegicus cretins.
    Jeez I wish the pack rats would just pack up and piss off, Neotoma bastards.
    I’m telling you those Dipodomys in federal cabinet are totally useless.
    Where’s the Ratsak when you need it, in short supply because the truckies are off crook, like everything else.
    Jesus wept what a mess.
    How’s the tennis going?

    Please note; the rats I’m referring too are Scovid Morrison and his rat pack government not the genus Rattus, the common or garden rodent. Nor am I referring to John Winston Howard.

  14. johnyperth

    Morrison has said that the taxpayers will put the bill if these are free.
    No taxpayers have been served?
    So I wonder how many taxpayers wouldn’t pay for these free tests compared for the higher price that will be charged?
    I would think the taxpayer would like to see these free test to be available to everyone!!??

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