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South Australia rolls out $1,000 rapid test fines

Blurred woman holds rapid antigen test, pedestrians in Adelaide.
Premier Steven Marshall has announced $1,000 fines. (Sources: Getty)

South Australians who fail to report a positive rapid test result will face $1,000 fines, the state government has announced, just hours after NSW issued a similar warning.

Asymptomatic close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases will also be able to collect two free rapid tests from a collection centre at Adelaide’s South Parklands, and can also buy tests from retailers across the state.

The state plans to open another 12 sites in the coming days.

Regardless, Premier Steven Marshall said on Wednesday people who test positive will need to register their test result with SA Health or face $1,000 penalties.

“The plan is to open 10 or 11 more sites in the next week, metropolitan and regional,” he said.

“We expect people to do the right thing (but) there are penalties if you don’t. In extreme situations we can take people to court, and I think the expiation is $1000 for an individual and $5000 for a corporation.”

In order to access the free tests, close contacts will need to register themselves and fellow close contacts in their household with SA Health, and will then receive a receipt for them to pick up the two free tests.

The scheme will open from Thursday, with the collection point also to open on Thursday.

NSW imposes $1,000 fines as RAT incentive questioned

It comes after a similar announcement by NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet triggered 53,909 people to upload a positive rapid test result to Service NSW on Wednesday.

However, there are concerns that penalising people who fail to upload a test result will discourage people from taking a rapid test.

“So NSW is now going to fine people for not registering these mystical RATs which no one has anyway. Is there a better way to deter people from even wanting to test themselves at all?” researcher and board director Dr Kirstin Ferguson questioned on Twitter.

“Is there not one behavioural scientist on the NSW government staff to explain that threatening fines for not registering RATs will have a pretty clear unintended consequence?”

Economist and former economic advisor to then-prime minister Julia Gillard, Stephen Koukoulas, also described it as a “super dumb policy” and said governments should instead be considering paying people to register their results.

“The incentive to get tested just fell markedly.”

Centre for Future Work economist Alison Pennington described the fines as “absurdly counterproductive”.

“Imagine, you’re crook. Options? Drive hours to find elusive RAT. Pay $40 you don’t have. Lose income isolating. Risk job loss and $1,000 fine. OR: Don’t get tested. Keep working.”

And, she added, the $320 Test and Isolate payments are still only available to NSW residents who have tested positive to a PCR test.

Victoria and Queensland have similar schemes for people to log positive rapid test results, however they have not yet announced penalties for failure to report.

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