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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 6 Hansard (23 June) . . Page.. 2519..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

because they have been there for a number of years, what their individual clients need. If something goes wrong, if there is something wrong and the client does not have a script for whatever, the pharmacists have got records there; they can actually attend to problems very quickly, which simply cannot be done with a mass-produced, supermarket type of arrangement.

It has already been said that pharmacies and service stations are probably some of the most important things you can have in a suburban centre, and suburban centres are really the lifeblood of our community. I think it would be a very sad day indeed if our suburban pharmacists were to be forced out. That is exactly what they feel will happen; that is exactly why Mrs Cross has brought in this legislation.

It seems to me, too, that every sensible piece of legislation that someone outside the government brings in is criticised by the government; they will nit-pick; they will find some often very spurious tangential legal point to actually do all they can to run interference with it. Well, I think this is very important legislation. People are trying to work out a minor amendment, just to make sure that it does operate well, but it is certainly something I have great pleasure in supporting.

I dread to think what would happen both to my family member who depends on our local pharmacy and indeed to so many other people in north-west Belconnen whom I know depend on the local pharmacy in Charnwood and indeed pharmacies right throughout Canberra for the excellent service that they do, which we will lose if this goes through.

I am amazed that a supposedly socially responsible and socially oriented government would do something like this, which can only hurt people who are perhaps more vulnerable than most in our community, who really depend on this particular service, because they do not have transport, they do not have access to things that a lot of other people do. Many of them are unemployed; many of them are elderly. They all are not particularly well and they do depend on the pharmacy.

If we lose our local pharmacies, if anything is done to affect our pharmacies and cause them to leave, it will be quite catastrophic, I think, for our community. I am somewhat amazed that this government particularly is actually going down this path; it really does quite amaze me. Congratulations, Mrs Cross, on bringing in this particular piece of legislation and I certainly hope we sort it out today and that you get a very favourable response because I think a lot of people in Canberra will be very happy to see that occur.

MRS CROSS (4.14), in reply: I must begin by thanking my crossbench colleagues and Mr Smyth, Mrs Burke, Mrs Dunne, Mr Stefaniak and Mr Pratt for speaking on this bill. I thank them very much for their support.

Mr Speaker, as you are aware, the purpose of this bill is to ensure that pharmacies in the ACT are owned and operated by registered pharmacists, as required under current legislation which restricts the ownership and control of pharmacies to registered pharmacists or companies that are controlled by registered pharmacists. However, clarification is needed within the legislation to ensure pharmacists are the only controllers and operators of pharmacies.

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