Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 November 2021) . . Page.. 3597 ..
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mrs Jones for the opportunity. I did interject earlier and say there is a schedule of fees, but I have now looked it up and I cannot find a relevant fee, so I will take on notice how that fee was determined by Canberra Health Services as being the appropriate charge in relation to this. This is a fairly standard matter in terms of how ACT Pathology operates.
I would also clarify, in relation to Mr Parton’s earlier question on the national partnership agreement, that Minister Hunt has indicated that he does not believe that the national partnership agreement covers testing where a certificate is required. He has been quite explicit in his own comments that he considers that the national partnership agreement covers testing where it is required under a public health order, where the satisfactory evidence of that test having been conducted and a negative result having been received is via the standard mechanism of a text message. He has himself said he does not believe the national partnership agreement covers that requirement for the provision of a certificate.
COVID-19—testing centre fees
MR MILLIGAN: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, on 13 March 2020 the Chief Minister signed the national partnership agreement that the federal and ACT government would foot the bill 50-50 for all COVID tests Canberrans are required to have. In other words, the Chief Minister signed up to the tests being free. Now Canberrans learn that your government is charging people for tests they are required to have. Minister, is your government not in breach of the national partnership agreement?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: No, we are not in breach of the national partnership agreement. I am going to take the opportunity here to advocate that maybe the opposition should be turning their attention to the commonwealth because, while Minister Hunt has indicated that he believes that the national partnership agreement should cover COVID-19 tests that are required under a public health order for people who are travelling interstate, so another jurisdiction’s public health order—and that should be covered where it is 50-50 funded, where the state and territory is picking up half the bill—where it is through a private pathology and fully commonwealth-funded, no, no, no, no. Australians should not be eligible for free COVID-19 tests that are required under a public health order if the only place they can go is a place that is run by a private pathology provider.
Maybe the Canberra Liberals would like to turn their attention to their colleague up in Parliament House and advocate that the same rules should apply to free COVID-19 testing whether you are getting it in a state or territory-run clinic—our clinic is run by Canberra Health Services—or whether you are getting it in a clinic that is run by a private pathology provider. For the ACT government’s part, we will be working with the private pathology providers—Capital Pathology provides the service at Kambah and Nicholls—to ensure that Canberrans will be able to access this service free of charge at whichever facility they go to, whether it is run by a state or territory government or whether it is run by a private pathology provider. That potentially means we will foot the bill for that because the commonwealth will not.