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Coalition wins fight to save pharmacies

Joint media release

Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care, Shadow Minister for Sport
Senator the Hon Sarah Henderson, Senator for Victoria

Senator for Victoria, Sarah Henderson, has been listening to the community concerns in regional Victoria about the serious consequences that the Albanese Labor Government’s approach to 60-day dispensing could have on local pharmacies and community members.

The Coalition strongly supports Australians having access to cheaper medicines.

But for months, we have been calling out the Albanese Labor Government for its lack of consultation and rushed policy making, which was putting Australian’s healthcare access at risk.

We have been calling on the Government to get back to the table with the community pharmacy sector and negotiate an Eighth Community Pharmacy Agreement to resolve the legitimate concerns on its approach to 60-day dispensing.

It is clear that the Coalition’s hard work has now paid off, with the announcement that the Government has brought forward the start date of the new agreement and will immediately commence negotiations with the sector.

Through the advocacy of the Coalition and community pharmacists across the country, we have supported Australians to have access to more affordable medicines without risking their local pharmacy closing.

Our focus was always on resolving the legitimate concerns that were raised for the serious impacts that unconsulted, unmodelled and rushed policy could have on patients and communities.

The Government did not adequately consult with community pharmacists before they announced this policy and they refused to model the potential flow-on impacts that this policy could have on patients, particularly the most vulnerable.

That is why we took this fight to the floor of Parliament House, on behalf of patients, communities and local pharmacists.

The Coalition will always stand up for the best interests of Australians, and we are pleased that the Minister for Health has finally heard our calls.

Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston said that the Coalition has genuinely listened to the concerns of patients and pharmacists and was proud to fight for them.

“Pharmacists are very highly regarded members of local communities, and for this Government to totally dismiss consultation and force a measure on them that would potentially see thousands of job losses was inconceivable,” Senator Ruston said.

“We understood that rushing this policy could have significant consequences for Australians, particularly for those communities in rural and regional Australia where the local pharmacist is the only primary healthcare professional in town. Getting it wrong could force up healthcare costs for the most vulnerable Australians and reduced access to critical services and advice.”

“The Coalition is proud to have forced the Government to do the right thing by patients, pharmacists and communities, and we now implore them to enter into the upcoming negotiations in good faith.”

Senator Henderson said, “I will not stop fighting for the viability of community pharmacies across Victoria.”

“Pharmacists play an invaluable role in the provision of primary healthcare in local communities across regional Victoria and I am relieved that their significant concerns may finally be heard and addressed,” Senator Henderson said.

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