'They are lying': Hunt to report retailers to ACCC over RAT claims

Health Minister Greg Hunt says companies who claim home test supplies are being redirected to the national stockpile are lying. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos
Health Minister Greg Hunt says companies who claim home test supplies are being redirected to the national stockpile are lying. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

Retailers telling customers that stocks of rapid test kits are being redirected to the federal government's national stockpile are "lying", according to federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, who says he is reporting the companies to Australia's competition watchdog.

Mr Hunt delivered the rebuke as it emerged an industry-pitched plan to allow children to drive forklifts would be raised at Thursday's national cabinet meeting, as the nation continues to grabble with major supply chain disruptions and workforce shortages amid the Omicron wave.

State and territory leaders will meet with Prime Minister Scott Morrison against the backdrop of ongoing nationwide frustration over shortages of rapid antigen tests.

Mr Morrison on Wednesday brushed off claims that the Commonwealth had redirected home testing kit supplies to the national stockpile, describing the allegations as "absurd" and "rubbish".

Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey on Thursday posted a redacted email from a supplier to social media, which claimed the federal government had "commandeered" rapid antigen tests using "emergency stock powers".

The email, which appears to be addressed to Queensland Rail, was dated January 14.

Without naming companies, Mr Hunt said retailers making the claims were lying.

"And that is why I am reporting them to the ACCC [Australian Competition & Consumer Commission]," he said on Thursday.

"There are people in the market who will make statements and make promises and then not be able to [deliver].

"What we are seeing is that, whether it's the Commonwealth, state or territories, or the community or private sector, some suppliers have overcommitted and not been able to deliver.

"There are different reasons and excuses put out, but the truth is that there is a global spike in demand and that's having an impact not just in Australia but around the world."

The federal health department issued a statement following Mr Hunt's comments to confirm it was reporting "false" claims about redirected supplies to the competition watchdog.

"These claims are categorically untrue," the statement said.

"Supplies of RAT kits are not being redirected to the Commonwealth and at no time has the department sought to place itself ahead of other commercial and retail entities."

The statement said supply was expected to "normalise" over the coming weeks.

ACT authorities said they were managing test supplies on a "day-by-day basis" and couldn't provide any firm indication as to when supply will increase.

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This story 'They are lying': Greg Hunt to report retailers to ACCC over RAT claims first appeared on The Canberra Times.