Politics Analysis

ANALYSIS: No Morrison test requisitioning? We smell a RAT

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons)

In an exclusive IA report, we detailed mounting evidence suggesting that the Morrison Government – caught out without an adequate plan to supply the community with RATs kits as promised – is stockpiling tests ordered by pharmacies and others in the community who did plan in advance.

This morning, IA received confirmation of further cancelled orders, citing "Federal Government emergency stock powers" and stocks being "commandeered":

It is clear Greg Hunt and his Health Department are themselves being dishonest when they say it is an “absolute lie” to suggest the Federal Government has requisitioned RATs to add to their national stockpile. There are simply too many separate voices saying the same thing – including the Queensland State Government and Queensland Rail – to be in any doubt about what has occurred.

As a Queensland Government source remarked to IA:

"It would be very odd for many of the country’s biggest suppliers to all be making the same 'false claim'."

The Federal Department of Health is treading a fine line.

In its statement of 14 January, it was careful to say [IA emphasis]:

‘The Department of Health reaffirms that the Department has not requisitioned all RAT supplies within and entering Australia.’

No, not all and not requisitioned – not exactly, not quite – but rather it has come into the market late and, using its market power, hoovered up virtually all the available tests.

The Government quietly announced last week closed tenders had been filled from five major suppliers for a massive $62 million worth of RATs. It was no coincidence that at the same time, RATs disappeared from practically all pharmacies across the country.

The reason for the late surge in supplies is because the Government had fallen lamentably behind in building up the $375 million stockpile of tests Morrison had announced he was acquiring in late December. This was required because of parallel commitments it had made to supply free tests for the aged care sector, concession cardholders and hospitals. Other commitments to supply GP clinics and pharmacies appear to have been quietly abandoned — at least for the time being.

While the Government has clearly not exercised “emergency powers” to mandate or requisition supply of RATs, it would seem clear it has used its market power to enable the de facto requisitioning of these vital products.

Suppliers obviously would fill the Federal Government’s order first despite having received other smaller orders, because

  • the order would be a much larger sale;
  • the order would be in bulk, this able to be filled more easily and efficiently;
  • government contracts are always paid — and also always paid on time;
  • the supplier would wish to encourage the government to place further orders; and
  • pressure from government procurement officers, whether overt or indirect.

In short, the Morrison Government has chosen to deceive the public in order to defend its lack of foresight and planning. Unfortunately, this time, it is putting the lives of millions of Australians at grave risk during a time of national crisis.

It simply is not good enough.

This is an abridged version of an editorial originally published in the IA weekly newsletter. Subscribe now to read the full version online in the IA members-only area.

Follow founder and director Dave Donovan @davrosz and managing editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus and on Facebook HERE.

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