Page 2834 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 5 August 2008
this, I would believe the consultation with pharmacists and particularly the peak pharmacy body on this bill’s relevant changes has been quite bad. It is disappointing because it is an important bill to the community; it is one that the Pharmacy Guild support the majority of but I think that it has been a difficult process for them.
What happened after the bill was tabled in December was that more submissions were made by the guild in March 2008. I believe that the minister met with the guild in April and their understanding, from that time, was that she would take further advice. There is a long gap between March and June, when a written response was received by the guild. More or less, all of the suggestions that the guild had made additional to a lot of the good stuff in this bill were turned down, basically out of hand.
The guild did believe these issues were being worked on and it is important to place this on the public record now because we need to really learn from this that, when we are dealing with such an important piece of legislation, we do not leave out the key stakeholders’ feelings. We had really just left them sitting there from March to June. They believed that their suggestions, recommendations and amendments were being worked on but then were told far too late in the piece to really be able to do anything with the out-of-hand no from the government. There was no time to meet.
The strange thing is—and I am not too sure what is going to happen here—the Pharmacy Guild were due to meet with the minister next week about this bill. Of course it is going to get through today and I am in no way about to stop that. However, I was trying to work on some amendments with the Pharmacy Guild to look at certain aspects of it in terms of the community pharmacy model and the registration of premises. So it is now somewhat unavoidable that we will not be able to proceed with those amendments.
I will be returning with an exposure draft bill that may help and I hope the government will look at that because it has been difficult. We have had to pull bits and pieces together—the four acts are pulled together—but now there may be room to move in terms of perhaps sitting certain aspects and elements of this bill in a stand-alone bill. We are working on that currently with parliamentary counsel and I thank them for that.
If we have a look at the background, the consultation with pharmacists and the peak pharmacy body on the bill, as I said, could have been much better. It is quite appalling that they were left out at a stage where they really thought that their ideas were being considered. We do see a repealing and replacing of the Poisons and Drugs Act 1978, the Poisons Act 1933, the Public Health (Prohibited Drugs) Act 1957 and a significant amendment to the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989.
As I said, at the meeting in March this year the Pharmacy Guild provided the government with a written submission on the bill. Amongst other things, the guild recommended that all the elements of the community pharmacy model be contained in this bill. With respect to the supply of medicines, it is in the public interest to ensure that advice relating to the supply and use of pharmacy medicines is provided by pharmacists with no commercial interest other than the provision of pharmacy services, with scheduled substances kept within pharmacy premises that meet specific standards so as to ensure such substances are kept securely and supplied only to