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Wednesday, 9 September 2009
Page: 6062

Senator CONROY (Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy) (10:54 AM) —I thank all of those who have participated in the debate. As mentioned in the second reading speech, this bill amends the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 in a number of ways. Most importantly, it implements new arrangements for the separate scheduling of medicines and chemicals. I am pleased to advise the Senate that the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee has inquired into the bill and recommended in its report of 7 August that it be passed without delay.

The committee identified two principal issues relating to feedback on consultations undertaken by the government and on the new scheduling arrangements and the constitutionality of the arrangements. As the Parliamentary Secretary for Health addressed these issues and the government’s response in his speech to the House, I will not repeat that detail here but instead provide a brief summary.

Since 2001, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, TGA, has undertaken a series of negotiations with both state and territory governments as key partners in scheduling as well as consultations with industry. I am pleased to confirm that, following the most recent consultations in May, feedback on submissions made during the consultation has been posted on the TGA website. The government is committed to open and cooperative consultations with industry, and further consultations are set to occur with industry to finalise the details of the arrangements we established under this bill.

In regard to the constitutionality of the new arrangements provided for in this bill, the government has received legal advice confirming that the ongoing involvement of the Commonwealth in partnership with the states and territories in the scheduling of substances is supported by the Constitution. The bill also makes a number of smaller changes to the act to improve its operation. The amendments in this bill are the third instalment in an ongoing program of reform to the act. The government is committed to ensuring that the regulatory arrangements for therapeutic goods in Australia continue to meet the need of Australians to access safe and effective therapeutic goods. The bill continues that commitment. I commend the bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.