Inside the Glamorous World of Australia’s Instant Rapid Antigen Test Millionaires
By Samantha Maiden
While Australians complain they still can’t buy rapid antigen tests, some entrepreneurs have made a killing from importing them.
Australia’s insatiable demand for rapid antigen tests is turning importers into instant millionaires, with one company that operates out of a two-bedroom apartment in Elizabeth Bay securing a $26 million contract with the Department of Health.
CEO and founder Austyn Campbell, 38, who set up the company Motion One less than a year ago, inked the massive deal with the Morrison Government to supply $26,290,000.00 in “medical supplies” this month.
Her company, Motion One, is the exclusive Australian ‘sponsor’, or importer, of Orawell saliva rapid antigen tests manufactured by Jiangsu Well Biotech, which is owned by Chinese conglomerate Jinsheng Group.
Motion One CEO and founder Austyn Campbell, 38, operates the business out of a two-bedroom apartment in Elizabeth Bay
Ms Campbell signed a deal to supply $26,290,000.00 in “medical supplies” to the federal government this month.
She’s one of a small group of sponsors or importers approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to import the tests, who are now making huge deals.
While Motion One is a new entrant, other veterans of the medical supplies industry heavily investing in rapid tests include Pantonic Health, which is run by Julie Bishop’s partner David Pantone and his two daughters.
Hough Pharma, a Gold Coast based medical supplies company which has been urging the Morrison Government to step up investment in rapid tests for nearly two years, has also engaged the lobbying firm Premier State which is led by Liberal powerbroker Michael Photios to help argue its case.
Previously, Motion’s One’s CEO Austyn Campbell, 38, worked as a sales manager for Suttons Motors, in mergers and acquisitions for SPC Australia, and as chief commercial officer at Sydney pilates franchise Vive Active providing strategic advice to the “state-of-the-art” gyms that promise to provide “mirrored ceilings, award-winning design and epic beats pumping through our premium sound system”
According to her LinkedIn, she is also listed as an Associate Director VC for The Eights, a private investment and venture capital firm backed by a number of “high net worth families” that boasts it is “unencumbered by strict mandates and has a nimble approach to investments.”
Recently, Ms Campbell also spearheaded a push by the US based Bala offering pastel-shaded ankle and arm weights into the Asia-Pacific region featuring pretty pastel shades that she noted were “suitable for Instagram.”
Such was the urgent need for the Morrison Government to secure the rapid tests in January that there was no open tender process for the $26 million contract with Motion One.
Austender documents confirm the contract was not put out to a normal tender process “for reasons of extreme urgency brought about by events unforeseen by the relevant entity, the goods and services could not be obtained in time under open tender”.
Ms Campbell also showed a philanthropic streak over the summer after she offered locals in Potts Point the chance to purchase RATs directly from her on a private Facebook group called Potts Pointers.
Julie Bishop with partner David Panton at the Portsea Polo
“If anyone requires any RATs then please let me know. We have a few thousand in stock,’’ Ms Campbell wrote.
“Not looking to gauge (sic) anyone ($12.50 each), just make them available to our community. I own a pharmacy distribution company and we are the TGA sponsors of these tests.”
The post drew an enthusiastic response with dozens of comments. Just 18 days after that Facebook post offering to sell tests for $12.50 a pop, the Austender website published details of Motion One’s new $26 million contract with the Health Department.
Motion One is a new company that was established just under a year ago on February 25, 2021.
It’s principal place of business is a modest 2 bedroom apartment in Elizabeth Bay. However, real estate data records reveal the property is not owned by Motion One.
Around six months before Motion One was established, ASIC records confirm Ms Campbell also established a company called Create Urgency on June 2, 2020.
This company has the same 2 bedroom Elizabeth Bay apartment listed as its principal place of business.
Then, in September 2021, another Australian company called WELL BIOTECH PTY LTD was incorporated.
Ms Campbell generously offered to sell some of her stock to Potts Point locals via a community Facebook group
Ms Campbell’s business is based in a modest 2 bedroom apartment in Elizabeth Bay.
In China, Jiangsu Well Biotech Co., Ltd is a Sino-American joint venture. According to its website the Jinsheng Group owns 107 factories and subsidiaries with more than 180,000 staff worldwide.
Ms Campbell emerged in public prominence in recent days after a number of downstream suppliers claimed they were told that the Orawell rapid antigen test orders had been delayed or failed to arrive and were being redirected to the government.
Just a few days after signing the $26 million contract, she released a series of public statements denying the government had requisitioned the tests that was relied on by Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a press conference where he urged suppliers to “tell the truth.”
“Motion One Pty Ltd (Motion One), the exclusive distributor of the Orawell COVID-19 Ag Rapid Saliva Test Device (Product), has not been advised, nor has it stated at any time, that any Government department is requisitioning, or has an intent to requisition, the Product, nor is it aware of any requisitioning actually taking place,’’ Ms Campbell stressed.
Ms Campbell’s company has sponsored a Chinese RAT.
“Motion One has complied, and will continue to comply, with its legal and regulatory obligations both to the Government (pursuant to relevant laws and regulations) and its customers (in accordance with prevailing supply agreements).
“We discovered through third parties that a company unknown to Motion One, a customer of one of our distributors, had notified its own customer base that the product we supply had been “recalled” on the basis of Government requisition. We contacted this customer as soon as the discovery was made and demanded that they issue an immediate retraction since there was no justification for a claim that there had been any ‘recall’.
“A retraction was issued. As far as we are aware, the Government has not requisitioned our Product at any time. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and co-operate with the Government to minimise the spread of misinformation.”