Wednesday, 5 March 2014
National Health Amendment (Simplified Price Disclosure) Bill 2013; In Committee
I just want to indicate to the chamber that we will not be supporting the amendment from Senator Xenophon. As I said in my contribution on the second reading debate, we acknowledge the view of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, but I also refer Senator Xenophon to the Bills Digest from the Library, which goes to the questions you were asking. There is commentary in there for senior health economists that indicates the figures that have been arrived at by the Pharmacy Guild are not agreed with by everybody. I think this is a contested space.
I acknowledge the view of the Pharmacy Guild but I would like to put on the record that I think we need to balance that view with the principle that we need to pay the right price—not too much and not too little—for pharmaceuticals in this country. We are purchasing those pharmaceuticals on behalf of the taxpayers of our country. We have to get the right price that ensures we have a viable, strong community pharmacy sector, particularly for regional Australia, but we have to make sure that we are paying the right price for pharmaceuticals.
I also think it is a bit disingenuous for the assistant minister to say that this is all the Labor Party's fault. You are the government now. It is your decision and you have to own it. To blame Labor is just not good enough. This is legislation that you are introducing into this chamber, so to blame Labor for this is frankly just a bit unfair.