Pharmacy bans local Council from premises

Image courtesy Junee Thumbs Up & Thumbs Down Facebook page.

The only pharmacy in Junee has shocked locals by refusing to serve local Council members and employees and their families

Earlier this week a notice appeared in the front window of the only pharmacy in Junee, a town in the NSW Riverina region.

“Due to the inaction of Junee Shire Council and its staff as of Monday the 22nd of May 2017 all councillors, executive staff and their families will not be permitted to enter the premises known as Junee Capital Chemist and all credit will be suspended until further notice,” the sign said.

According to the region’s Daily Advertiser, based in Wagga Wagga, the move meant around 200 people needed to make a roughly hour-long round trip to Wagga if they needed to access medicines.

Junee Capital Chemist owner Jane Gentle declined to comment to AJP, but mayor Neil Smith told the Advertiser that the dispute concerned a clean-up order and a request from the council for the pharmacy to improve pedestrian access.

Prime7 News reporter Sara Jones said in a news report that the Council had removed temporary fencing around the premises due to access issues, and that the pharmacy owners had demanded it be returned.

The sign has now been removed and after a meeting between Ms Gentle and Councillors the issue has now been resolved, though as of Tuesday Prime7 News claimed that the pharmacy was still refusing service to Council staff.

“Technically, closing the door to Councillors and their families doesn’t fall under the NSW anti-discrimination act,” Ms Jones said. “Yet the Junee community is up in arms.”

The issue sparked lively discussion on a local Facebook page, Junee Thumbs Up & Thumbs Down.

“Wow, is that even legal?? Must be serious for them to do that!!” wrote one local.

Another said, “To me the underlying issue is irrelevant. Denying people access to medications because they are associated with a group that you are in dispute with is unethical.”

Others defended the pharmacy.

“There must be a logical reason behind all this so we cannot judge as we don’t know what’s going on. Good on the chemist for standing their ground for whatever the reason,” said another.

It was also suggested that the dispute arose due to problems not with the existing pharmacy site, but with a new development site for the pharmacy, which is closer to the hospital and other shops.

A Fairfax poll on the Advertiser site asked whether readers felt the pharmacy had a right to refuse service to council staff and their relatives. At the time of writing, this was split almost evenly, with 49.54% of readers saying that yes, the pharmacy was within its rights.

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