‘Strong Case’ for Surveillance Testing Regime for Teachers: Aussie PM

By Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson is a reporter based in Australia. Contact him on caden.pearson@epochtimes.com.au
January 19, 2022Updated: January 19, 2022

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the Commonwealth would support the states and territories if they pursue a COVID-19 surveillance testing regime for school teachers, but not so much for students.

“I think there is a very strong case about surveillance testing for teachers,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

“Just like we do with healthcare workers. The predominant way, I’m advised, the virus comes into a community like that is actually through the teachers, not through the students.”

The premiers and chief ministers of Australia’s states and territories, together with the prime minister discussed the matter at a recent National Cabinet meeting.

“There was a strong view about teachers,” Morrison said, adding that the Commonwealth would support any jurisdiction that made their own call to do that.

However, he stopped short of supporting daily rapid antigen testing for students.

“There is mixed medical advice on this when it comes to surveillance testing of students, to be clear,” he said. “And the medical advice that we’ve received, I couldn’t say is strongly in favour.”

Morrison noted that it could give parents and teacher confidence in the education system if a daily surveillance testing regime were implements.

It would also benefit the economy to have parents and teachers back to work, with the prime minister describing it as being in the national interest and in each jurisdiction’s interest.

This comes after The Sydney Morning Herald reported, based on anonymous government sources, that the states of New South Wales and Victoria were working on a shared back-to-school plan to be presented to National Cabinet this week that includes surveillance testing for students with rapid antigen tests.

Australian Council of Trade Unions Secretary Sally McManus said it was “essential” for students and teachers to be provided with two free rapid antigen tests per week.

“It will be the same for the teachers too. If you are taking those tests at home and you know you’re positive, then you can stay at home and you’re not spreading it to everyone else,” she told Nine’s Today program.

Meanwhile, a Brisbane school teacher, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, has said the government’s measures were “incredibly insulting” and indicated that teachers should be trusted to “take precautions” if they become unwell.

“If people were dropping dead left, right, and centre, [then] I completely understand how they (bi-weekly rapid antigen tests) may be necessary,” the source told The Epoch Times. “However, this is just for a flu and a cold, I don’t understand the need to do this.”