Dominic Perrottet has taken aim at Queensland’s controversial border ruling which requires travellers be tested for Covid out of their own pockets.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has taken aim at Queensland’s controversial border ruling which requires workers to be tested for Covid out of their own pockets.
A negative Covid test is still required whether you enter Queensland by road or air. And the negative test within 72 hours applies to anyone who’s been to a hotspot within 14 days.
Currently, all of NSW, the ACT and Victoria are declared hot spots by Queensland.
Getting a Covid test to travel must be done by a private lab, with pathology centres charging anywhere from $150 to $300 for a PCR swab, depending on how quickly you need it.
The only way Queensland residents would avoid hundreds of dollars in extra costs would be if the state dropped these hotspot declarations before the middle of December when the state is expected to reach the 80 per cent vaccination threshold.
The PCR test requirements have been slammed by travel companies and airlines, who see the expensive test as an impediment to reviving the industry.
Mr Perrottet joined the chorus on Tuesday, calling on the National Cabinet to come up with an agreement to subsidise the test for travellers, especially those who need to cross the border regularly for work.
“That would be the common sense approach,” he told Sydney radio 2GB on Tuesday.
“We can’t have domestic travel working that way. People just won’t travel.
“There needs to be a paper taken to National Cabinet … if these onerous testing regimes are in place, someone needs to pick up the bill … (subsidising the tests) would be the common sense approach.
“There’s going to have to be a substantive subsidy that continues to a short to medium term as we move through this phase.”
The Premier said he hoped the problem could be resolved before December.
“To pay 150 bucks to go up there, for many people that’s going to be a cost they don’t want to pay and they probably won’t go (to Queensland),” Mr Perrottet said.
“When someone‘s flying interstate on a flight for less than 100 bucks and paying close to $200 for testing, you can’t have domestic travel working that way.”
Former Australian deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth suggested much cheaper rapid antigen tests would do the job fine, slamming the current rule as “astonishing”.
“They‘re not needed, I think rapid antigen tests would be more than sufficient,” Dr Coatsworth said.
“Getting somebody to pay for PCR tests is just an added burden.”
He added: “It is a little astonishing that a government would charge the public for the same PCR tests when they’ve been getting money from the federal government for them over the past 18 months. I don’t think that’s probably the right way to do things.”
Mr Perrottet went on to defend former Premier Gladys Berejiklian after she was this week accused of ignoring health advice to lock down the entirety of Sydney during this year’s biggest Delta wave.
“I think that email is not the health advice, it’s an email,” he told reporters.
“We seek to get the balance right and I believe that we did. I said at the time I didn’t want to see a tale of two cities and we did not.
“I’m very proud of the fact that from time to time the government has had to make decisions to keep people safe.”