Event: Andrew McKellar interview with Mark Gibson, 6PR Breakfast.
Speakers: Mark Gibson, host 6PR Breakfast; Andrew McKellar, chief executive Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Date: 8 September 2021
Topics: Rapid antigen testing, vaccine mandates, vaccination passports, COVID management
Mark Gibson, host 6PR Breakfast: We’re going to talk to the business group now, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry about their calls for what they want to see happen next when it comes to things like testing, rapid testing for COVID, what we can do in workplaces. Andrew McKellar is the CEO of the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Good day, Andrew.
Andrew McKellar, chief executive Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry: Yes. Good morning, Mark.
Mark: What are you calling for exactly this morning?
Andrew: Well look, we think that one of the emerging areas of focus now is, as you say, rapid testing. This is something that really needs to be freely and widely available as we move into the next phase. As we get to those vaccine thresholds that we’ve all heard about, 70% and 80%, obviously as the rest of the economy opens up, and as we start to prepare to move around more freely within Australia, it will become important to have access to affordable testing, quick and convenient testing. These rapid tests, they can be very reliable and particularly when you’re doing it in masses. But this is something that we have to prepare for now and get in place now.
Mark: Obviously, representing the business lobby, the business groups here, what about for employees, customers? There’s a whole range of interested people who you’re saying we should have testing kits for.
Andrew: Well, that’s right. I mean, it really applies across the whole community. Obviously for business, there’s an advantage where you want to ensure that your employees have access to quick and affordable testing. This is something where really it can save government money as well. At the moment in parts of Australia, the governments are paying out a lot in terms of business support. Where businesses are shut down, that’s going out to businesses and to individuals. We want to get those businesses back open and operating again. We want to be able to move around more freely around Australia. Having this sort of capability, it’s something we’ve seen in other countries around the world, in the UK, in Europe, in North America now. This sort of rapid testing is becoming much more widespread. It’s another tool that we have that we have to use, and it will help us in the transition to reopening the economy nationally and internationally.
Mark: Andrew, you have the ear of people like the federal government. Why do you think we are lagging so far behind when it comes to things like home testing and the rapid testing that you’re talking about? It is being used overseas, and it has been for many months. What’s the problem here in Australia?
Andrew: It’s a very good question. I think from a business point of view we’re saying, let’s not wait. Let’s make sure we’ve got these approvals in place now. Let’s make sure we’ve got supply so we can see that we’re making progress towards the vaccine threshold. So take the step now. Let’s not get caught behind the curve. We were a bit slow off the mark with vaccination. We’re catching up. So let’s hope that we will catch up to other parts of the world in that space. We can’t rest on our laurels. In general, we’ve had a fortunate experience in many states, in Western Australia particularly; but we know that at some point we need to move forward. We need to get back open domestically and internationally, so let’s take those steps right now.
Mark: All right Andrew, thanks for the chat today. All the best.
Andrew: Thank you. Thanks so much.
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