Event: Andrew McKellar interview with Neil Mitchell, 3AW Mornings
Speakers: Neil Mitchell, host 3AW Mornings; Andrew McKellar, chief executive Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Date: 8 September 2021
Topics: Rapid antigen testing, vaccine passports, COVID management
Neil Mitchell, host 3AW Mornings: I think rapid testing along with vaccination passports are quite possibly the way of the future. The chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Andrew McKellar, is certainly pushing that as an issue. Andrew McKellar, good morning.
Andrew McKellar, chief executive Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry: Yes. Good morning, Neil.
Neil: Where would you start it? Where would you like to see it?
Andrew: Look, we want these rapid tests to be freely and widely available. I think where we should start is with those essential businesses that are able to stay open now, to make them available there. But this is an important step. If we’re going to reopen Australia, get back to business, and move beyond current lockdowns, then we really need to prepare for this and get these tests approved and get them out into the marketplace.
Neil: How would you see it working? An airline, for example. You don’t travel unless you’ve had a rapid test?
Andrew: Well, I think those issues, access to flights and so on, I think these vaccine passports are going to be part of the solution. But here, I think we’re talking about situations where people are running either a large business or a small business. You want to have a testing program with your workforce, with schools and other organizations like that, you can have mass testing. It gives you a very clear indication across a large number of people as to what the health status is. If you identify a concern, then you can go and do a PCR test, which takes more time and costs more money.
Neil: Yeah. But they are, as I said, they’re pretty strongly indicative and have upper and pretty high levels of accuracy. What’s the holdup, do you know? Have you discussed it with government or anybody? What’s the holdup?
Andrew: Well, yes, we are pushing it. And what we want to do is elevate the issue. We’re aware that yes, at one level, as you say, some tests have been approved, but we need to get this out as quickly as possible. We need to prepare for when we get to those thresholds. There’s no point holding off until we get to 70 or 80% vaccinated thresholds and then say, “Oh, what are we going to do next?” We have to start making this happen now. Get the tests approved, get them out sooner rather than later, make sure that we’ve got enough stock on hand, so that as we get to those vaccine thresholds, we can roll them out to business and the community very widely.
Neil: It doesn’t sound like the efficiency of public service to me, but I think you’re right. What do you think is the game-changer? Is it rapid testing? Is it a vaccination passport? Is it no jab, no entry? What do you think is the main one?
Andrew: Look, I think it’s all of those things. We have to have as many weapons in the armory, if you like, tools that we can use. So, I think it’s a case of the more horses you bet on in the race, the more likely it is you’re going to pick a winner. So whether it’s masks, whether it’s social distancing, whether it’s vaccines, whether it’s PCR testing, rapid testing, these are all things that will help us move past lockdowns, get the economy open, get back to work, and I think help restore the normal lives that everyone wants to get back to.
Neil: Thank you very much. I agree. Chief executive Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Andrew McKellar.
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