A taxing stand-off

Tax data set to be the new battleground between the Pharmacy Guild and the Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation

The simmering disagreement between the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the panel reviewing pharmacy remuneration and regulation continues, with a new battleground over tax information set to ignite.

A number of Guild members have expressed concern that the review panel was seeking information from the Australian Tax Office, raising privacy and business confidentiality concerns, AJP believes.  

The issue was the subject of heated debate at recent Guild member meetings.  

AJP understands a letter was sent to Guild members in which the organisation’s national president George Tambassis said the Guild “has been made aware that the Review has sought pharmacy data from a wide variety of sources including major banks and government agencies like the Australian Taxation Office (ATO)”.

“We are very concerned this has been happening covertly without the knowledge of community pharmacy owners,” Mr Tambassis said. “We are determined to get to the bottom of this matter”.

He went on to say the Guild had asked the Panel and the Review Secretariat to “immediately release” a list of all third parties from which it has sought pharmacy data, the data it has sought and what has been provided.

“We are particularly concerned that the Review is collecting data from the ATO and we will be pursuing an FOI request to understand what data has been sought from the ATO and what has been provided”.

The ATO stoush follows from a previous call by the Guild for the review panel to disclose its dealings with Deloitte Australia to address concerns that the Review’s independence and credibility have been compromised.

The Review engaged Deloitte Australia to conduct a study of international pharmacy remuneration and regulation, including comparison with the Australian model.

Deloitte has also produced a major report which was appended to the Chemist Warehouse submission to the Review on reforming ownership and location rules for community pharmacy in Australia.

The Guild believes there is a “fundamental conflict of interest having an organisation working for the Review, and at the same time participating in submissions to the Review”.

“This conflict seriously undermines the independence of the Review and makes it virtually impossible for it to make untainted recommendations, particularly in regard to location rules,” Mr Tambassis said.

The review panel is currently expected to deliver its final report to the Minister for Health by May 2017.

Previous Forum: pharmacy does it for free
Next RB cops NZ fine over pain range

NOTICE: It can sometimes take awhile for comment submissions to go through, please be patient.


  1. pagophilus

    Sometimes when it comes to privacy and confidentiality the issue is if you don’t have anything to hide, you’re not afraid of the information coming out. If it’s deidentified I don’t see what the problem could be. If it’s not deideitified then only those up to no good should be afraid….

    • Russell Smith

      I think that the issues go far beyond – in terms of trust and partiality / conflict of interest – such that one may question exactly what info is being requested – bear in mind that banking and taxation data are not necessarily the same nor may they be the same for management reporting – also how could such information to be used for analysis of location issues – deidentified or not? How then, if the acquisition of data is flawed, questions of conflict of interest give rise to partiality in the treatment of the data, and thus whatever “conclusion” is not worth having yet another enquiry in pharmacy. ( Unless it’s to benefit another big ticket accountancy/legal firm with a herd of snouts in the trough )
      Or I may be completely wrong

    • Daniel Guidone

      If you have nothing to hide, please unlock your phone and give it to me so i can inspect it. Nobody would do this because privacy is a right, even to those who have nothing to hide.

      In this particular case, the question would be whether the information obtained was actually private or confidential. I don’t know enough about it to say. I don’t know enough about tax law and privacy to know if the taxable incomes of companies is private. They might not be.

      • pagophilus

        When there’s public money going in to an enterprise such as PBS copayments, and regulation regulating competition, ownership etc, privacy cannot be absolute. Likewise with Medicare. If the government (taxpayer) is subsidising/assisting a service, you should lose your right to privacy. Obviously only those who need to know should be able to know, but then we all deserve to know how our money is being spent and how our restrictive regulations are working and the outcomes of such.

        • danguidone

          Not sure what you mean.

          “Privacy cannot be absolute” – maybe. Why not?
          “ONly those who need to know should be able to know” – agree, but thats what privacy means
          “we all deserve to know how much is being spent” – not a privacy issue and no private information is needed

        • Jarrod McMaugh

          Dan has it right by a long way.

          In addition, it’s important to address an issue here in that you don’t seem to understand the structure of the pharmacy industry – community pharmacies are contractors to the PBS. The government has not more right to the financial details of a PBS approved pharmacy than I have to throw financial data of the couriers inusr to deliver compounded medications.

Leave a reply