Rapid Antigen Test scandal reveals Morrison’s cruelty

While many countries have been proactive in tackling the pandemic with free test kits, the Liberal government is determined to serve its own interests first, writes Dr Jennifer Wilson.

ON JANUARY 5, 2022, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that he will make rapid antigen testing free of charge available to concession cardholders.

The turnaround followed days of sustained criticism and skyrocketing prices, as RATs became increasingly scarce and some retailers took advantage of the shortage to raise prices.

Australia, Morrison said, would not join other Western countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States in providing free tests to their populations. This would lead, according to him and his ministers, to hoarding and waste, and people would misuse them to “”social reasons”.

Like me, you may have misunderstood that the purpose of RATs is social, in the sense that individuals take responsibility for the larger society in which we live. We use RATs (or would, if we could get them) to make sure we don’t get infected with COVID-19 before going out and mingling with family, friends, and strangers.

They are the cornerstone (or would be, if we could obtain them) of personal responsibility, that moral virtue that a government itself demands of us so devoid of moral virtue and of responsibility, personal and collective, that one can only howl in bitterness when they say these words out loud.

No doubt many people felt a slight relief when we heard the Prime Minister seem to soften his tough stance and announce that those with concession cards of one type or another could access RATs for free from their pharmacy. . Those already in financial difficulty would not have to go without vital tests, however, the working poor without a concession card are, as usual, plunged into outer darkness. No free tests for you.

Morrison’s neoliberal Pentecostal prosperity ideology continues to operate from the premise that if you don’t have enough money, you have no one to blame but yourself.

However, on Monday we learned that the government will not be providing RATs to pharmacies. Instead, pharmacies must source of their own supply, give them free of charge to eligible people and then claim the costs from the government via a structure that remains to be determined.

It remains to be seen whether pharmacies are ready to do so. They can hardly be blamed if they don’t. For the record, several people reported on social media that their pharmacists had said they could not provide the tests to those eligible if they were not provided by the government.

The possibility of free tests seems less and less likely. Indeed, it appears to be just one more Morrison ad with no substance.

It would be easy if the federal government simply provided the tests to pharmacies. After all, Morrison and his ministers have access to as much as they need whenever they need it for free despite their substantial salaries, and they are presumably able to extend this rare privilege to their families and close associates. .

Government response to COVID a series of political failures

However, as we have seen repeatedly throughout this pandemic, the federal government is assuming that everything should be as difficult, complicated and slow as possible, and should require minimal public spending. This is not because he strives to be responsible for the public funds entrusted to them, but because they wish to withhold as much as possible for the rorts, the electoral campaign and the military equipment. In other words, anything they can use to their advantage and not yours.

In a move eerily echoing the priorities of dictatorships rather than democracies – the very morning we found out that free tests won’t be available as we thought, that many places lack adequate food supplies, and people are extremely sick are treated in a hospital car. parks – Defense Minister Peter Dutton has announced his pledge to spend $ 3.5 billion on tanks, as well as various accessories.

For a government to refuse to make free testing available to financially disadvantaged citizens is both scandalous and bitterly cruel. For a government to announce free tests and simultaneously make it almost impossible to access is simply sadistic.

No doubt over the next few days we will hear from Morrison state that he offered the tests and that it is up to pharmacies to procure them and seek reimbursement. If they are not ready to do it, he will say, they are the ones who deprive people of RAT

It writes itself, doesn’t it? We have heard it so many times since the start of this pandemic. “I don’t own the RATs, mate” is just the next event.

Dr Jennifer Wilson is an AI columnist, psychotherapist and scholar. You can follow Jennifer on Twitter @NoPlaceForSheep.

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