Health Minister Greg Hunt responded to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk who called on the Commonwealth to fund half the amount of what the test costs during a press conference on Tuesday morning.
Mr Hunt confirmed a free text message would suffice when entering the Sunshine State from December 17 and a certificate, that would come at a cost of $145 per person, was not needed.
“A pathology test will only be charged for a patient when they are required to obtain an official certificate, rather than using the existing text message system that is in operation in every state and territory,” he said in a statement overnight.
Health Minister Greg Hunt has demanded the Queensland Premier apologise for causing confusion over the PCR tests. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
Annastacia Palaszczuk welcomed the news that PCR tests would be half funded by the Commonwealth but Mr Hunt said it had always paid for half the costs of a test. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Ms Palaszczuk welcomed the news after hearing the update saying she was pleased families could reunite for Christmas “as my government had always planned”.
“I welcome the Federal Health Minister’s commitment to fund PCR test required to enter Queensland from interstate hotspots,” she wrote on Twitter.
“I am pleased people can look  forward to being re-united in time for Christmas – without additional costs – as my government had always planned.”
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But Mr Hunt refuted the Premier’s comments, saying the Commonwealth had always funded 50 per cent of the PCR test as outlined in an agreement Ms Palaszczuk would have signed in the early stages of the pandemic on March 13, 2020.
“The only thing that has changed is that after accepting text confirmation for 18 months and then rejecting it for 24 hours, Queensland is now accepting the same text messages again, dropping their demand for a certificate,” he tweeted in response to the Premier’s post.
He demanded Ms Palaszczuk apologise for causing “unnecessary stress” to her residents and domestic travellers who had set out plans prior to the certificate requirement.
But she was adamant the confusion did not come from her government saying she made it “plain weeks ago” a text message for “most people” would suffice.
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The Queensland government and Commonwealth had been at loggerheads in the past few days over who would foot the bill for the tests.
On Tuesday the Premier said she did not want to “fight” with the federal government.
“Now is not the time to fight. Now is the time to work together,” she said.
“Greg Hunt can quite easily make it a Medicare debate. He can do what with the stroke of  pen.”
Mr Hunt had earlier written to the Queensland government over his “concerns” of testing travellers and questioned why a rapid antigen was not enough.
He referenced an Australian Health Protection Principal Committee statement saying “large-scale, non-targeted, asymptomatic testing in Australia should be strongly discouraged”.

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