Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 November 2021) . . Page.. 3593 ..
MR PARTON: Who changed the rules in relation to charging people for tests and/or certificates and turning them away?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: We have had a clarification of the rules over the last 24 hours. I would not necessarily describe it as a change in the rules or the practice in relation to Canberra Health Services. I think it is really important to understand that COVID-19 testing is undertaken in multiple sites, some of which are provided by the ACT government through Canberra Health Services, and for some the service itself is provided by a private pathology provider. Where the ACT government Canberra Health Services provides the service, it is funded under the national partnership agreement. Where Capital Pathology provides the service that funding is through Medicare, under the Medicare Benefits Schedule.
Mrs Jones: Point of order. The question was about who made the decision in relation to the rule change. This is a point of order on relevance. Who made the decision—
MADAM SPEAKER: Mrs Jones, please sit down. There is no point of order. The minister made reference to it not being a change; it is just a clarification.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: There has been some change. I was getting to that, if Mrs Jones had been given me another minute. We have had consistency across our ACT government testing sites, despite these different funding arrangements, and it has consistently been the case that these testing sites were available for people who were symptomatic, those identified as close or casual contacts and a person who was directed to get tested for a public health purpose. The status of being directed to get tested for the purpose of travel has been somewhat unclear. There are also issues around the fact that the funding arrangements are different. We have determined—this morning I have, in conversation with the ACT Health Directorate and Canberra Health Services, determined that we will have consistent rules across all of our sites, no matter whether they are provided by Canberra Health Services or Capital Pathology to enable this testing to be provided.
COVID-19—testing centre fees
MR HANSON: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, speaking on ABC radio this morning, you confirmed that Canberrans had been charged $112 for a COVID test which they were required to have if they asked for a certificate. You also said that people were being turned away if they were there for domestic travel. Minister, where does it state in the national partnership agreement that the ACT government can charge Canberrans $112 for a COVID test that they are required to have?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Mr Hanson is really demonstrating his agility there, given that all of those issues have been covered in response to the previous question. There is nothing in the national partnership agreement about certificates. I have been clear that people were being charged when they required a certificate. It has not been Canberra Health Services’ practice to charge people for the test. It has been Canberra Health Services’ practice, however, to charge people, through an invoice from ACT Pathology, if they required a certificate.