The Pharmacy Guild claims suggestions it donated money to the Labor party to achieve a specific outcome on PBS co-payments are “completely false”
An ABC News article mapping data of industry political donations has broached the Pharmacy Guild’s contributions over the past few years.
The article states that in 2015-16, the Guild was the largest pharmaceutical donor to Labor, having donated $139,990 to the party.
“More than $82,000 of that was donated on May 20 last year, two days before Labor announced its policy to oppose the Government’s increase to the co-payment for medicines,” it says.
“At the time, the powerful lobby group welcomed the announcement with a press release… The guild did donate to the Liberals too, but only $70,600,” ABC News writes.
The Guild says the suggestion of a link between the donation and the policy outcome is “completely false”, and has demanded that ABC News correct the “serious error” in its story.
“The Pharmacy Guild has never run a campaign – fierce or otherwise – against the 2014 Budget co-payment increases. We have always said co-payment levels are a matter for the Government to decide, keeping in mind the need to ensure Australian health care consumers have the best possible access to PBS medicines,” says a Guild spokesperson.
Executive Director of the Pharmacy Guild, David Quilty, says: “At no time has the Guild ever linked such contributions to specific issues or policy decisions and this most certainly did not occur in relation to the PBS co-payment issues.
“The ABC story mistakenly mixes up the 2014 Budget co-payment increases with an entirely separate Government measure in May 2015 and then uses this inaccuracy to draw a baseless inference about the Guild’s political behaviour.
“The Pharmacy Guild calls on ABC News to immediately acknowledge this error, correct the story and retract its baseless inference against the Guild,” says Mr Quilty.
Shadow Health Minister Catherine King has said that Labor never supported the proposal.
“We voted against it in 2014, we fought it through the 44th Parliament,” she said in a statement.
At the time of writing, ABC News has not retracted its comments, although it has added the Guild’s comment to the story.
The article also looks at individual donations: according to the data, individuals donated $6.6 million to political parties in 2015-16, more than any one industry.