Event: Andrew McKellar interview with Neil Breen, 4BC Breakfast
Speakers: Neil Breen, host 4BC Breakfast; Andrew McKellar, chief executive Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Date: 8 September 2021
Topics: Rapid antigen testing, COVID management
Neil Breen, host 4BC Breakfast: There’s calls today for the federal government to roll out free rapid antigen tests to essential businesses so they can stay open during lockdowns, chemists, construction sites. They can give a result in 10 to 15 minutes as opposed to the hours or days it takes. So, remember federal health minister, Ray Hadley, the rapid at-home tests could be approved by the TGA within months. I think they’ve got to get a move on. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Australia says these have to be available for essential businesses right now. The CEO, Andrew McKellar joins me on the line. Good morning to you, Andrew. I’ve read stories of truckies sleeping in their trucks for four days, waiting for a test to come back. It just makes business sense to get this rapid antigen testing over the line.
Andrew McKellar, chief executive Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry: Good morning, Neil. And indeed, you’re completely right. So the issue here is we want these tests to be freely available. It makes good sense as you say. They’re quick, they’re cost-effective and if you can get mass testing out there, then they work very well. So I see the point. The cost of these tests is only five to $10 a pop. At the moment, nationally we’re paying $50 for a PCR test. Sometimes you have to queue for five hours, half a day. You have to wait 24 hours or longer to get the results. Need to have this much more rapid system of testing in place as an extra protection, an extra tool in our armoury, really.
Neil: Why is it taking so long, do you think?
Andrew: Well, look, I think this is the important thing. We’re urging governments or the federal government here, to get ahead of the curve. We know what’s coming. We have to reopen Australia to business. We’ve got these targets in terms of jobs. When we get to that stage, things like rapid antigen testing are going to be much more important and much more useful. So let’s prepare for that. Let’s get it out and start getting it to essential businesses now. I think there are already 28 of these tests approved by the federal government, so let’s get it out to the areas that really need it. And then make sure, as we get up to those vaccine thresholds, we can spread it more widely in the community.
Neil: And it’ll give public confidence too. Hey, if you come into this business, you know everyone here has tested negative today.
Andrew: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, this is the thing. Businesses, what they need is to get back into business. We need to enable them to do that in the states where we have lockdowns. And we want to avoid lockdowns in those states where we don’t. So, we’ve got to ensure that they have this equipment available, that they can protect their staff, monitor the situation, and respond very quickly.
Neil: Great stuff. Andrew McKellar, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO. We’re with you 100%. Has to happen. 4BC Breakfast.
Andrew: Thank you.
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