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Labor puts the viability of regional pharmacies at risk

The Coalition has raised serious concerns that the Albanese Government’s 60 day dispensing policy will increase the cost of some pharmacy goods and services.

“The Coalition strongly supports affordable access to medicines for all Australians.  However, Labor is claiming credit for a cost-of-living relief measure which, in reality, is being paid by around 5,900 community pharmacies across Australia.  We hold serious concerns that this policy could force the cost of other items to increase so that Australians end up paying more at the pharmacy,” Senator Henderson said.

Bannockburn pharmacist Scott Wilkes, who runs two local pharmacies, says he will be forced to axe 30 per cent of his staff – around 7 jobs – if the policy proceeds as planned from 1 September 2023.  He says he will also need to cut back on vital services such as vaccinations and free blood pressure monitoring, as well as reduce operating hours.

“In Bannockburn and throughout regional Victoria, community pharmacies play a key role in providing primary healthcare and advice,” Senator Henderson said.

“Labor’s policy will cost every community pharmacy, on average, $158,000 a year.  For pharmacies to remain viable, this will either mean lost jobs, less services or increased costs of some pharmacy items. Given most pharmacy workers are women, any loss of jobs this will have a disproportionate impact on female workers,” Senator Henderson said.

report commissioned by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia found that as many as 20,000 jobs will be lost, 665 pharmacies will close and Australia’s most vulnerable patients will suffer under the Albanese Government’s 60-day dispensing policy.

“While the Coalition has championed cheaper medicines particularly for those with chronic conditions, we want to make sure this policy does not have perverse negative impacts on Australians’ access to critical primary healthcare.  We call on the Albanese Government to guarantee that no pharmacy will close,” Senator Henderson said.

“Unlike other Labor backbenchers, it is disappointing that Libby Coker has not stood up for community pharmacies and the vital role they play in the Corangamite electorate,” Senator Henderson said.

Mr Wilkes is calling on Corangamite residents to sign a petition asking the Albanese Government to go back to the drawing board.  It can be found at

The Coalition has a very strong track record of lowering the cost of medications. When in government, we invested more than $16.5 billion in new or amended listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, helping Australians access medications they desperately need.

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