Greens Senator Richard di Natale has called on the Federal Government to immediately halt negotiations on the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement until there has been a full public inquiry into the current agreement, to ensure that what he calls “mistakes” do not happen again.
Di Natale asked Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash whether there would be full public inquiry into the 5CPA, “given the alarming finding that the Department of Health did not keep records of negotiations with the Guild, even though $15 billion of taxpayer funds were at stake, and that there is no mechanism to measure the effectiveness of services delivered under the agreement” following the ANAO report.
Nash said the 6CPA negotiations are well underway and that Health Minister Sussan Ley has asked the Department to take into account the findings of the ANAO and the findings of evaluation processes undertaken as part of the 5CPA in the consultation processes and the subsequent policy and program development.
Di Natale slammed the Health Department’s handling of the 5CPA and called its negotiation “a handshake deal in a back room between the guild and the department”.
“The department failed to keep a record of their meetings with the Guild,” he said. “They did not take any minutes of the meetings. They did not prepare agreed notes of what was discussed.
“We saw the reallocation of funds within the agreement. We had millions of dollars of funds that were being shuffled around within this agreement that were undocumented and completely unexplained—tens of millions of dollars.”
He said a transfer of $277 million allocated for professional programs it went as a grant to the Pharmacy Guild.
“There are two things that need to happen as a matter of urgency,” di Natale said.
“There must be a full public inquiry into the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement. We simply cannot accept that we have $15 billion being negotiated between two parties with no record of how we have arrived at that figure and, worse still, we do not know how those funds are being spent.
“We are now in the middle of negotiating the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement. It looks like the government is set to do that.
“The government must immediately halt any negotiations on the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement until we have a full public inquiry into the current agreement to ensure these mistakes do not happen again.”