72% say government should provide free RAT tests: Polling

The Australia Institute surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Australians between 11-14 January 2021, about whether government should provide free Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) and why some parts of Australia are experiencing problems like pressure on the public health system, supply chain issues and staffing shortages.

Key findings: 

  • Almost three quarters (72%) of Australians believe the government should provide RATs to everyone free of charge.
    • This includes two-thirds (66%) of Coalition voters believe RATs should be distributed for free by the government.
    • 16% of Australians believe retailers should continue to sell RATs to individuals.
  • Regarding pressure on the public health system, supply chain issues and staffing shortages, more than half (53%) of Australians believe that governments failed to plan adequately over the past two years and the problems could have been avoided.
    • One third (33%) of Australians believe that governments have planned the best they could over the past 2 years and the problems are unavoidable.

“Rather than wanting government out of their lives, it is clear that most Australians believe the government has a responsibility to provide Rapid Antigen Tests free to the public,” said Ebony Bennett, deputy director of the Australia Institute. 

“Australians have tried to do the right thing, but the Morrison government’s failure to secure adequate supplies of affordable rapid antigen tests left many Australians in desperate situations over the summer. The public knows this is not a problem that can be solved by individual Australians.

“Two years into this pandemic, it is damning that more than half of Australians say that government could have avoided supply chain issues and pressure on the public health system had they planned better.

“Empty supermarket shelves and businesses empty of staff and customers show the reality is that there can be no healthy economy without healthy people. Australians have seen first-hand that well-designed public health measures and government regulations work hand in hand.”

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