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.

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