“The scale of the Government’s abject waste on COVID Rapid Antigen Tests has reached new heights, with over half a billion dollars’ worth of RATs currently sitting in Government storage. That’s enough to fund Pharmac’s entire drug wish list with more than $100 million leftover,” says ACT Party Health spokesperson Brooke van Velden.
“ACT has discovered that Te Whatu Ora has 59.9 million RATs in storage, all due to expire by April 2024. At an average cost of $8.86 per RAT, that’s $531 million worth. Imagine the difference this eye-watering figure could have made if spent wisely. It’s almost half of Pharmac’s annual budget. It could have paid for over 7,000 counsellors’ annual salaries. It’s enough to pay 3,200 GPs for a year. It could have given a $10,000 pay rise to New Zealand’s 54,000 nurses. Instead, it has been sent offshore to RAT producers in exchange for 60 million plastic test kits which will likely never be used.
“Labour scolded Kiwis for panic-buying toilet paper while itself panic-buying over half a billion dollars’ worth of RATs using their money. This monumental waste could easily have been avoided if Labour had listened to ACT, who said to allow the private importation of RATs from the outset. This would have allowed decentralised stockpiling by private companies, spreading risk and allowing entities to respond to local demand. Labour did not listen and banned the import of RATs.
“This stupid and despairingly wasteful spending from Labour was entirely avoidable. It reflects all that is wrong with a central Government attempting to manage markets on behalf of a country based on their best guesses. Former COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins owes Kiwis an apology for wasting so much of their money on this short-sighted foolishness.”