Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 5 August 2008) . . Page.. 2836 ..
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (12.14): I will be supporting this bill as I believe that it is a sensible consolidation of existing legislation which will assist practitioners in the field of drugs and controlled substances to understand their obligations under ACT law. The bill consolidates existing legislation on medicines, poisons and prohibited substances and therefore provides a more comprehensive act on these matters. This means that those affected by these rules are more easily able to find a full rundown of their obligations under the law and thereby ensure that their operations are in accordance with ACT law.
I note that parts of this act are based on the recommendations of the Galbally review which examined policy on drugs, poisons and controlled substances. That review recommended a national policy approach to these issues, and this bill is in line with that approach. I will say at the outset of my remarks that I strongly support the community pharmacy model and I have consistently held that view since being elected to this place.
I hear what Mrs Burke says. I also am a little disappointed by the rushed nature of this debate. Although it has been on the notice paper for some time, I understand that the Pharmacy Guild were involved with ongoing discussions with the government. I understand that they have a meeting with the minister next week and, although I acknowledge the need to get things done in the next three sitting weeks, I do feel that it should have been possible to properly engage the peak industry body which I understand has not happened to a level that I think would be satisfactory.
I believe that it would be a devastating blow to the Canberra community if we were to go down the path of incorporating pharmacies into major supermarkets. Pharmacists are central to the safe supply of medicines to the community. They are the first stop for many Canberra families with a sick child or in need of urgent advice and the best treatment for what may be a minor ailment or, at least sometimes, to determine whether it, in fact, is a minor ailment that they are dealing with.
I have spoken to the Pharmacy Guild in the preparation of my remarks about this bill. They stressed to me the importance of ensuring that the advice relating to the supply and use of pharmacy medicines is provided by pharmacists with no other commercial interest than the provision of pharmacy services. They also emphasised that it was in the public interest to ensure that scheduled substances are kept within pharmacy premises that meet specific standards so as to ensure that such substances are kept securely and provided only to people authorised to receive them. I do not believe that these elements can be retained if we allow ourselves to drift away from the community pharmacy model.
One aspect of this bill is that part 10.2 provides that the commonwealth therapeutic goods laws will apply as acts of the territory. Clause 156 of the bill defines the commonwealth therapeutic goods laws as the Therapeutic Goods Act, as amended from time to time, and including statutory instruments under this act. Whilst it is understandable to refer to commonwealth laws in this way, I think we need to be particularly careful with this kind of incorporation provision since it not only involves the incorporation of existing legislation into ACT law but also involves the incorporation of future amendments. This, of course, is the intention, since the bill seeks to establish a more consistent national approach.