‘A matter of trust’

Bill shorten

Labor says it is “surprised and disappointed” by the Liberals’ recent attempt to double the prescription volume of common drugs without consulting the Guild

Following “high-level” talks with the Labor Party in March and April, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia has received a supplementary letter of support from the party this week.

“We write to reiterate Labor’s strong support for community pharmacy and thank you for the close and constructive relationship we have established over the past six years,” says Labor leader Bill Shorten and Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King.

“Labor was surprised and disappointed by the Liberals’ recent attempt to double the prescription volume of common drugs without any consultation with the Guild.

“Regardless of the competing views on this proposal, seeking to implement it during the term of the 6th CPA without discussion with the Guild is demonstrably against the letter and spirit of that Agreement.”

Mr Shorten and Ms King write that: “This has not been Labor’s approach to policy development or the way we have developed relationships with valued stakeholders like the Guild.

“We can assure you that this collaborative approach, focused on consensus, would be the same one applied by a Labor Government.

“In terms of the Agreement itself, a Labor Government will approach negotiations to the 7th CPA in good faith. And crucially, Labor will honour the Agreement it strikes – as the Guild has said, that is a matter of trust.

“A Shorten Labor Government will work with you and your members collaboratively on the development of the 7th Community Pharmacy Agreement and its implementation. We look forward to working with you if elected at this Saturday’s election.”

Meanwhile the Guild also received a letter of support from the Coalition this month.

The letter from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt included a reminder of the measures the government had taken to support community pharmacy during this term, and through the 6CPA.

Guild president George Tambassis welcomed the expression of support for the current pharmacy ownership model, and acknowledged the government’s removal of the sunset clause in the Location Rules, which had “delivered added certainty for pharmacy business owners”.

Without referring to specific measures, the letter said a re-elected Morrison Government will carefully consider proposals that could improve the affordability of medicines “and will undertake extensive consultation on such proposals.”

“This assurance is intended to address our concerns about the lack of consultation when the government proposed a dual listing measure on the eve of the Budget,” said Mr Tambassis.

On the optional $1 discount, the government again committed to “careful consideration” of its ongoing operation and role in improving affordability for consumers, particularly in rural and regional areas.

“This is not the first time we have been promised a review of the $1 discount – but we live in hope,” said Mr Tambassis in a statement to members.

Mr Morrison and Mr Hunt commit to “early and inclusive negotiations” with the goal of signing a new Agreement with the Pharmacy Guild before the end of 2019.

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