Aussies Will Have To Pay $145 Every Time They Want To Visit Queensland When Borders Open
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Australians wishing to cross the border into Queensland when it opens in mid-December will have to pay $145 for a PCR test to prove they don't have coronavirus.
The state government said travellers will not be able to use the rapid antigen tests, which are much cheaper than the PCR variety.
Queensland's border will reopen once 80 per cent of the state's vaccine-eligible residents are double jabbed, with modelling predicting it could come as soon as December 6.
NEW: Queensland authorities are projecting the state to hit 80% fully vaccinated as early as December 6.
"It's a projection so it could be anything between the 6th and the 12th of December," Deputy CHO Peter Aitken said today.
- @MartySilk (@MartySilkHack) November 19, 2021
But despite the roadmap saying any TGA-approved test should be sufficient, Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said the PCR test is the only option for everyone over 16 who want to enter the state.
Queensland will be the only open-border state that enforces the PCR test.
D'Ath said Queensland is in a 'different position' to other states due to its current low numbers of COVID cases.
"They can be more relaxed because they already have the virus throughout their communities, so they're not trying to suppress the virus like we are," the Health Minister said.
Queensland's Acting Chief Health Officer, Peter Aitken, said the faster antigen tests were only beneficial with high cases numbers.
"To put it very roughly, rapid antigen tests are about 70 per cent as effective as PCR," he said. "The stage we're in, with four active cases, we want to identify every case, not miss 30 per cent so we'll continue to use PCR tests at this stage."
Under the current guidelines, anyone who plans to enter the state must return a negative PCR test 72 hours before arrival.
JUST IN: The Premier has confirmed that the PCR test requirement for those entering the state will STAY.
Palaszczuk said she will make "no apologies for keeping Queenslanders safe", despite concerns around the cost of the tests. #9News
MORE: https://t.co/gqlH4scnea pic.twitter.com/eLdtouLCve
- 9News Queensland (@9NewsQueensland) November 22, 2021
PCR tests are free to anyone displaying coronavirus symptoms but start at $145 per test at private clinics.
The Federal Government has refused to amend Medicare to cover the cost of the tests.
Speaking to 2GB, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said he was working with the state government to create the best outcome for travellers, but that the existing funding system would not change.
"We provide access, we cover 100 per cent of the Medicare testing. And all states and territories have agreed to a national partnership where they provide what's called asymptomatic testing," he said.
"You just turn up and we cover 50 per cent of every one of those, all of those costs, and we'll continue to do that in all states and territories."
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said today that the state 'makes no apologies for keeping Queenslanders safe'.
"This measure is part of our plan... and our plan is staying," she said. "I want to remind everyone that they are also required in other states.
"This is a measure that has been put in place and will remain in place on advice from the Health Minister. The PCR test is the most accurate."
Queensland recorded no new coronavirus cases on Sunday (November 21) and current records show 84.35 per cent of eligible residents have had their first jab of the vaccine.
Ahead of Queensland's border reopening, One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson has called for Covid-19 vaccine mandates to be scrapped, with a new bill that will override the states and ban 'discrimination' against unvaccinated people.
"Australians who stand for their right to choose vaccination are just like any other Australians," she said. "This legislation is urgently needed to arrest and reverse the pandemic of discrimination that has been unleashed on the Australian people.
"People have a right to choose whether they want to have this vaccination or not. What is the country coming to? If you allow the premiers to have these powers what will be next? This could lead to anything.
"The Prime Minister is weak, he says there should be no vaccine mandates - then do something about it," she said.
Australian federal Senator Jackie Lambie slamming Pauline Hanson's anti-vaccine mandate bill.
"Being accountable for your own actions isn't called discrimination, it's called being, you wouldn't believe it, a god damn bloody adult." https://t.co/XWkeEzghy4
- @MartySilk (@MartySilkHack) November 22, 2021
The bill was supported by Matt Canavan, Gerard Rennick, Alex Antic, Sam McMahon and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, but it was voted down by the Government, Labor and the Greens.
Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie gave a passionate speech about the bill in which she said Hanson regularly supports other discrimination and that the mandates are necessary to keep Australians safe.
"You have a choice," said Lambie. "'And I support that choice. But you don't get to decide how the rest of Australia responds to that choice.
"The problem is politicians like Senator Hanson and Senator (Malcolm) Roberts are using people's fear to boost their own election campaigns, and they are using fear to make money, and that's what this is about from One Nation."
NSW will drop vaccine passports on December 15, Queensland will introduce them to enter hospitality venues on December 17 and Victoria has vowed to keep jab requirements in place into next year.