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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 6 Hansard (23 June) . . Page.. 2587..


MS DUNDAS (continuing):

business is is also sorted out by the pharmacy act, and what a supermarket is is defined in the territory plan.

This is a very simple amendment that addresses all the concerns raised over the last couple of days by the Minister for Health, yet still allows the Assembly to achieve the outcome of not having pharmacies operating in supermarkets which, as we were discussing before, would be a very detrimental thing for the ACT and a very detrimental thing for the provision of health care in the territory. I urge members to support this amendment so we can support this bill, and ensure that our community pharmacies are able to get on with the job of providing health care for the community.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (9.48): The government will not be supporting this amendment this evening because this is an extremely bad way to make law. We started, this morning, with a bill that proposed to restrict ownership on the basis of whether or not a pharmacy held a crown lease. Then, at about lunchtime, we had a bill that attempted to restrict ownership of a pharmacy on the basis of location within a private shopping centre or some other business.

This evening the bill has changed again. It is now attempting to limit pharmacy ownership on the basis of a pharmacy not being permitted inside the premises of a supermarket. It has gone all the way from crown leasehold to private shopping centre to only not within a supermarket. That is a very significant departure from the legislation we started off with this morning. It shows how this legislation has been made on the run throughout the day.

Aside from the complaint about the process, which I think is fundamentally flawed, the government also has serious concerns about the nature and extent of this particular amendment. First of all, I can have no confidence that the definition proposed by Ms Dundas would not potentially catch the operations of existing large pharmacies in the ACT that provide a range of goods and services. They could be caught within the definition of "supermarket". Is anyone telling me that pharmacies do not sell food? Yes, they do sell food. Do pharmacies sell other household items such as toothbrushes, combs, hairdryers and soft toys? Yes, they do. Is the selection of those goods on a self-serve basis? Yes, it is.

The issue with this definition is that it potentially captures larger pharmacies that provide a great diversity of services. I think that is a fundamental flaw with this proposal; it opens it up to challenge. If the issue is that we want to prevent big supermarket chains from providing pharmacy services, this provision would potentially open the way for challenge by one of those big supermarket chains. They could say, "This large chemist is providing exactly the same range of services as we provide. We believe it is a supermarket for the purposes of the act, and its ability to trade."That is the fundamental weakness with this definition. Would this catch larger pharmacies? My suggestion is that it could. Would it be open to challenge? My suggestion is that it could be, absolutely. For those reasons I believe that this should be considered further by the Assembly before we consider the issue definitively.

Assume that the legislation is passed. An attempt to apply the provisions to a particular situation may succeed, but it raises the issue of applying the same result to a range of big chemist shops that already operate effectively and provide a similar range of goods to


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