The dream of owning your own rapid antigen test is becoming further out of reach for young Australians, with many saying they may never get their foot on the RAT ladder.
Thirty-two-year-old Melbourne woman Lucy Ainsley and partner George Kosta said the outlook was grim. “All we want is to own our own small box of nasal rapid tests. Nothing fancy. We’ve even looked to buy RATs in the outer suburbs or smaller towns. But every time we go to buy one, it’s either already sold or asking a ridiculous price. It’s impossible,” they said.
The couple say some of their friends are relying on financial help from parents to afford RATs, further pushing up prices. “Lots of people we know have bought RATs with their parents’ help or have inherited RATs. But that’s not an option for us”.
As supply dwindles and prices rise, the federal government says it will allow investors to negatively gear RATs and rent them to low income Australians. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said offering incentives for speculators to buy tests up and on-rent them to those who can’t afford them was the best way to ensure availability.
“The market has always been the best way to ensure the most efficient distribution of goods and services within society and it’s no different with essential medical diagnostic supplies,” he said.
He rejected criticism from experts who say RATs should be made affordable for all Australians, arguing buying an investment RAT was part of the Australian Dream. “The last thing we want to do is put the brakes on investment. For a lot of hard-working Australians, getting your foot on the RAT ladder – perhaps buying one for your family and then a second one as a tax-minimised investment – is a great way to set yourself up for retirement. I’m certainly not going to take that opportunity away from Australians”.