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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 30 June 2004) . . Page.. 3040 ..

South Wales in relation to how the National Competition Council would view so-called reform of pharmacy in New South Wales, where different arrangements apply. We wish to ameliorate that.

I have, quite appropriately, written to the Prime Minister, to ask him for some explanation about what it is that the Commonwealth now expects of all jurisdictions in relation to the deregulation of the way pharmacies operate, accepting that it has just taken money off us in its last budget for what it says was a lack of progress by the ACT.

In the context of the operation of friendly societies and the need for further investigation or inquiry, I understand that the Minister for Health has agreed with the Pharmacy Board and, I believe, with the Pharmacy Guild about how the friendly society amendments to the Pharmacy Amendment Bill that the minister has introduced might operate, and whether additional work is required on the operation of friendly societies.

Work has already been done by the department. A bill is before the Assembly. I am more than happy to take up with the Department of Health, and with the acting minister on his return this evening or tomorrow, how the inquiry, which the minister has already directed his department to undertake, might be expanded to cover the issues that you raised in the question. I will take some further advice on that. We will see whether the further work that the minister has already required does, in any event, encompass the issues that you raise.

MS TUCKER: Thank you. Can you confirm that you will wait until this inquiry has been completed before you bring your bill back to the Assembly, and that you will clarify with the Prime Minister the process that is now being undertaken in the ACT?

MR STANHOPE: Certainly, the Minister for Health, Mr Corbell, has directed his department to undertake further negotiations and to work with the Pharmacy Board and the Pharmacy Guild in relation to certain aspects of the amendments to the Pharmacy Amendment Bill, which is being introduced into the Assembly and which applies to the operation of friendly societies in the ACT. I cannot imagine that the minister or the acting minister would bring that matter back to the Assembly until that inquiry has been completed.

Similarly, to the extent that the questions that I have raised with the Prime Minister affect or impinge on the operation of national competition policy and the steps that we are taking in the ACT, of course I would expect that we would await a response from the Prime Minister before we proceed with the amendments. However, I will take those issues up with the acting minister tomorrow, he can take some advice from his department and we can get an up-to-date statement on the inquiries that are being pursued and the basis for them. I am more than happy to provide that further information to you, Ms Tucker.

Smoking in pubs and clubs

MRS CROSS: Mr Speaker, my question is to the minister representing the Acting Minister for Health. It has been brought to my attention that the government, in issuing smoking-related exemptions to pubs and clubs during the transitional period, will be accepting applications seeking an enlargement of the area in which smoking will be

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