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Thursday, 22 April 1999
Page: 4124

Senator TAMBLING (1:00 PM) —I thank the opposition for their support on this very important piece of legislation. I intend to make a few very brief comments because the details have been set out earlier in the second reading speech. The National Health Amendment Bill (No. 1) 1999 is a relatively straightforward piece of legislation aimed at prohibiting the inappropriate export of pharmaceutical benefit scheme subsidised medicines. This bill delivers on a 1998 budget initiative to save Australian taxpayers money. It is estimated that up to $20 million per year of PBS subsidised medication is inappropriately exported overseas. This bill will put an end to these activities and ensure that only eligible people in Australia access PBS subsidised medicine.

I want to pick up the point that Senator Evans made with regard to the ongoing support of the PBS. The government will be taking a number of initiatives throughout this year about the quality use of medicine and drawing to the Australian community's attention the important benefits that flow to all Australians from the PBS and the very important budget contribution that is made by the government in this important area. The initiatives in this bill are intended to frustrate inappropriate use of medicine—certainly by taking it out of the country without the appropriate approvals and that type of nature. On behalf of the government, I thank senators for their cooperation on this legislation.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.