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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3499 ..

MR GENTLEMAN: I thank the CEO of ACTCOSS for her strong advocacy for those Canberrans that are looking to try and get into the housing market. Wherever we can, we will assist her in that work.

MR PARTON: Minister, what immediate steps will you take in the planning area to relieve our housing crisis other than blaming things that are way outside of your sphere of influence?

MR GENTLEMAN: In my sphere of influence I have the ILRP. As I said, we are providing housing for 41,000 Canberrans in the ILRP when the growth expected is 17,500. You can see the clear levers that we have are being pulled by us as a government in that sense of housing availability for blocks across the territory and ensuring that we do not have urban sprawl into the future, costing Canberrans even more.

COVID-19—testing centre fees

MS CASTLEY: My question is to the Minister for Health. Many MLAs have received emails from Canberrans planning to travel who are realising that, when asymptomatic, free COVID tests are not available. However, private pathology is able to conduct tests for around $150. As of yesterday, the EPIC and Garran testing centres offered a fee-for-service test at just over $110. Was it ever considered to provide this service to tax-paying Canberra residents for free?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Castley for the question. The availability of free COVID-19 testing in ACT government clinics has been consistently, throughout the entire pandemic, related to eligibility criteria that are determined on public health grounds. The eligibility criteria are around having symptoms, being identified as a close or casual contact or having been directed or asked to get tested by a health authority such as ACT Health or New South Wales Health. That has been consistently the case throughout the pandemic.

I certainly know people who have been turned away from testing centres because they have gone, as a matter of a lot of caution, when they did not have any symptoms and they had not been to a close contact exposure location—they had just been to a regional area that they thought might have cases, and they have been turned away from testing sites. Those criteria have been very clear throughout the pandemic.

Mrs Jones: A point of order, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: A point of order?

Mrs Jones: It is on relevance. The question actually was whether it had ever been considered to be provided for free; that is all.

MADAM SPEAKER: The minister is in order, but she has time to get to that point.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Given some of the requirements in relation to testing, in terms of both accessing health services and for travel, there is some work currently

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