Senator defends receiving private COVID test in her office
In a week when Sydney residents were queuing in cars for five hours for a COVID test, a NSW senator secured a private test in her office.
Senator Hollie Hughes, who was filmed by a staffer taking the test administered by Laverty Pathology, said in the video she was suffering from a cold and the sniffles.
Public health guidelines ask Australians to stay home if they are feeling unwell and get tested at a COVID-19 testing clinic.
Quizzed on why she had received a private test, a spokeswoman said MPs, senators and their staff had an "arrangement" to "supplement" testing options.
In the video posted on Tuesday, the Liberal Senator said she was experiencing cold symptoms.
"I've got a little bit of a cold, had a little bit of a sneeze, got a bit of sniffle," Ms Hughes said.
"The best thing that we can do when you are feeling a bit unwell is get tested as soon as possible," she said.
The senator tested negative to coronavirus, and a spokeswoman insisted she was not unwell when she went to work in the morning.
In the video, which was posted to Facebook, the senator receives a mouth and nasal swab in a conference room.
"It certainly didn't hurt very much and really not that unpleasant to make sure you're not spreading COVID to your closest contacts and loved ones," she said.
A spokeswoman for Senator Hughes said the private test is available to all politicians and their essential staff.
"All Members of Parliament, Senators and their staff are required to undertake cross jurisdictional travel to perform their duties and come into contact with members of the public, despite adhering as much as possible to physical distancing," the spokeswoman said.
"As such, the Australian Government has an agreement with a pathology provider to supplement the COVID-19 testing options available for all Members of Parliament and their essential staff," she said.
"This testing supplements the COVID-19 testing through state and general practice run respiratory clinics, which are also funded in part or in full by the Australian Government."
A spokesman for Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed the government issued a contract to a private pathology provider for testing services to MPs and staff.
Senator Hughes's spokeswoman said she was not unwell when she arrived at work, but started showing symptoms throughout the morning.
"Senator Hughes confined herself to the conference room and maintained social distancing with staff of 1.5 metres of her," she said
"Senator Hughes left isolated at home following the test until she received the negative test result.
"Fortunately, Senator Hughes is feeling better today and is back at work.
"Senator Hughes wanted to use her experience to demonstrate that no matter how minimal the symptoms it's important to get tested."
Originally published as Senator defends receiving private COVID test in her office