“Minister for COVID-19 Response Chris Hipkins told the Health Select Committee that we shouldn’t trust the Australian Government, because he’s read media reports that we shouldn’t,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“I asked Chris Hipkins, ‘given the Australian Government has approved 27 Rapid Antigen Tests as being 90 or 95 per cent sensitive, why don’t you just let New Zealanders buy those ones?’

“The Minister’s answer was that the Australian Government’s claims are wrong, because he’s seen media reports about it. You can’t make this stuff up.

“The Minister said that New Zealanders are allowed tests if they’re at least 80 per cent sensitive. There are 18 types of Rapid Antigen Test approved by the Therapeutic Goods Authority as being more than 95 per cent sensitive.

“I asked the Minister if he thought the Australians were so untrustworthy that a test they believe is 95 per cent sensitive is really under 80 per cent. He could not answer.

“I wonder how the Australian people and political leaders would react if they knew Chris Hipkins thought their tests were too dodgy for New Zealanders, that their Medsafe equivalent, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, is naive and unreliable, and tests they think are 95 per cent accurate may actually be less than 80 per cent reliable?

“What’s more, the Minister should explain what methods the Ministry of Health is using to decide tests ARE reliable. Are they doing large scale double blind randomised trials to test sensitivity? If not, what criteria are they using? Is this a rerun of the saliva testing debacle, where the Ministry of Health was ticked off by the Auditor General for its methods?

“Meanwhile, people face a shortage of Rapid Antigen Tests and concerns about price gouging. The most effective thing that the Government could do is simply let New Zealanders buy the tests that are already approved in Australia.

“ACT has said since our COVID 3.0 paper that it’s important we have the best technology to fight COVID. If a technology or treatment is approved by the relevant authorities in Australia, America, Britain or Europe for citizens there, Kiwis should be free to buy it here.”