When is a shopping centre not a shopping centre?


Yen Yab’s pharmacy has been sitting empty since January… thanks to a quirk of the location rules

Waverley Family Healthcare has submitted a petition to Health Minister Greg Hunt asking him to exercise “common sense” over the decision that the pharmacy ran afoul of the location rules, says Waverley Family Healthcare’s Dr Allan Cunneen.

Dr Cunneen told the AJP today that he wanted to bring a full 24-hour medical and pharmacy service to the people of Mt Waverley. Dr Cunneen owns the building, but Mr Yab was to own the pharmacy business and lease space inside.

The site was ready to go, but Mr Yab’s application for the pharmacy licence was rejected on appeal by the Federal Court after the owner of two nearby pharmacies objected.

The reason? An adjacent shopping centre is not technically defined as a shopping centre.

The Pinewood Shopping Centre does not have a centre management, and thus can’t be classified as a shopping centre.

And as the new building is adjacent, the new pharmacy is not the required 1.5km away from an existing business.

Dr Allan Cunneen. Image: Waverley Family Healthcare
Dr Allan Cunneen. Image: Waverley Family Healthcare

“It’s all ready to go – we’ve got a town planning permit for a 24-hour doctor and a 24-hour pharmacy, everything’s finished, we had Medicare approval for the pharmacy,” Dr Cunneen says.

“I’m the owner of the building – I’ve been building this facility for five years. I have a lease with a pharmacist, Yen Yab, and a condition of his lease is to provide a 24-hour service. He’s the one who applied for the licence.

“The building was finished last December and occupied from January, but the pharmacy has just been empty, waiting. And I’ve been delaying the start of the 24-hour doctor service, because it has to go together – without the pharmacy, it’s not providing the treatment people need once the diagnosis is made.”

Dr Cunneen says that the Pinewood is “clearly” a shopping centre, with a supermarket, a cinema, the required number of car parks and, of course, two pharmacies as well as other shops.

“Medicare granted our licence in spite of objections from the local pharmacies – when they made the recommendation the pharmacists appealed on the basis that [Pinewood] wasn’t a shopping centre. It’s a legal technicality.”

He says that it’s important to bring a full 24-hour doctor and pharmacy service to the area as there are only two other such services in Melbourne – in Mill Park and Berwick.

“This is altruistic; I don’t need to do this. It’s to provide an essential service. Currently we’re open 7am to 10pm seven days, and we have trouble all the time with there being no pharmacy nearby open in the early morning, late at night or all weekend and on public holidays.

“What we have is the opportunity to provide an excellent service for the whole of South-East Melbourne, but it has to be together – pharmacy by itself doesn’t have diagnosis and a doctor by themselves doesn’t have treatment.

“We’re not interested in competing with the shopping centre pharmacies. We’re not retail, we’re small, we’re hidden in a medical centre and the basis of this objection is not what we applied for – we applied on the basis that we’re a new service in the area.”

A petition with 3,500 signatures has been presented to the Health Minister.

“He has the power to use common sense and grant us the licence,” Dr Cunneen says.

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1 Comment

  1. fiquet
    06/09/2017

    The irony that there are two pharmacies owned by the same owner in the Pinewood shopping centre. One of them is ‘normal’ and the other one is basically a ‘front’. It doesn’t even have a sign outside it saying that it is a pharmacy, and does max 30-50 Rx daily…it’s a broken down wreck that no-one goes inside, but due to the current location rules,it’s enough to keep any other pharmacy businesses out of Pinewood. That way Pinewood has only one fully funcitoning pharmacy and a healty monopoly for the benefit of the owner. It’s a shame that the public has to suffer due to all of this… with only one actual pharmacy in Pinewoodm and a much needed 24 hour clinic is kept away….

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