Rankin MP Jim Chalmers says Labor does give a RATs

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers says Rapid Antigen COVID-19 tests (RAT) should be provided free of charge to all via the Medicare system.
Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers says Rapid Antigen COVID-19 tests (RAT) should be provided free of charge to all via the Medicare system.

Rankin MP Jim Chalmers says Rapid Antigen COVID-19 tests (RAT) should be provided free of charge to all via the Medicare system.

Mr Chalmers sought to clarify Labor's stance on the tests after Labor Leader Anthony Albanese had previously said the tests should be 'affordable'.

"I don't think we confused people. I've seen that kind of commentary on social media, but the position that we came to is entirely consistent with what we've been saying for some time," Mr Chalmers said.

"We considered all of the options as you'd expect from an alternative government.

"We want to provide those tests for free. That's the most responsible and fairest way to do it. It's good for people that receive those tests, but it's also good for the economy.

"That's why we came to that position and I don't think it matters that we took another day to come to that conclusion when it's entirely consistent with what we've been saying for a long time."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced rapid antigen tests would be free for some Australians.

"I want to stress - anyone who is symptomatic or a close contact gets a free test, " he said.

The PM said RATs would be available for free at testing centres, along with PCR tests, but people should only get tested if they are unwell.

"If you are not symptomatic, and you are not a close contact, then there isn't a requirement for you to go and have that test," Mr Morrison said.

Mr Chalmers said Labor wanted to make sure that the proposals it put forward were responsible.

"Nobody should be denied a test based on not being able to afford one. The best way to ensure that - the fairest, most responsible, most efficient way to ensure that - is to provide these tests free of charge via the Medicare system," he said.

"It's good for the person who needs that test to prevent them going from chemist to chemist and supermarket to supermarket paying $60 and $70 and $80 a throw. It's also good for the economy and the broader community, so that people can afford to do the right thing by their co-workers and their loved ones to get a test and if they've got COVID to take the appropriate steps."