‘Pharmacies on the frontline’


Bill shorten

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has signalled long-term certainty for the future of community pharmacy, and promised 7CPA preparations will start “early on” if Labor is elected

Labor leader Bill Shorten has highlighted the crucial role of community pharmacists in a speech at the Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s Parliamentary Dinner on Tuesday night.

Guild members and industry stakeholders, as well as a number of politicians including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Health Minister Greg Hunt, Shadow Health Minister Catherine King, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Greens leader Richard Di Natale, and One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, attended the dinner at Parliament House, Canberra.

In addressing attendees, Mr Shorten said that with Australians living longer and with more chronic health conditions, community pharmacists are “more important than ever in an Australia”.

“We want pharmacies to hold their place on the frontline,” he said at the event.

“When Australians visit their community pharmacy, they can go in and get expert advice – face to face – from the person whose name is on the door.

“A million Australians, every day, seek reassurance and guidance from someone they feel like they know, someone who knows their history, knows their family, knows what has worked in the past and what will help now.”

Mr Shorten said the reason why Labor supported the removal of the sunset clause on the location rules earlier this year was “because we want to ensure all Australians continue to have to access a network of well-distributed pharmacies providing professional advice and support”.

He told dinner attendees that his government was looking towards the future and the way community pharmacy could help directly address burgeoning chronic health issues and complex medicine needs.

“That’s the kind of long-term thinking that underpins your Community Pharmacy 2025 report,” said Mr Shorten.

“It’s the kind of long-term certainty I want to bring to politics in this country – a plan for the future, for the next generation, not just the Monday after the next election.

“I can promise you that if we are elected as a new government, we will sit down with you and begin preparations for the next Community Pharmacy Agreement, early on,” he assured pharmacy owners.

“We will trust in your expertise, your insights, your ability to speak for your members – and the Australians who count on you.”

Meanwhile Prime Minister Scott Morrison alluded to an extension of the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement in his speech.

He said the Coalition Government wanted to deliver certainty to community pharmacy now and into the future, adding: “that includes delivering and extending – underlined – the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement.

“That’s a key part of what we want to deliver, as well as other measures to support community pharmacists. And they’re discussions we’re having right now,” said Mr Morrison.

Mr Morrison signalled a May 2019 election, with the 2019-20 Budget, expected to be in surplus, to be handed down in April.

He praised pharmacists as health professionals and small business owners, and outlined a number of reforms the Coalition has made to support the sector.

“You fill a gap that no supermarket or megamart can ever fill,” he said.

The Pharmacy Guild welcomed the “overwhelming bipartisan support for the community pharmacy model” as reinforced in speeches by Federal MPs at the event.

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