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Monday, 22 November 2010
Page: 1803

Senator SIEWERT (8:08 PM) —I can understand why Senator Fielding and Senator Xenophon put together this group, so I was not reflecting on that issue. The point for me was that that group was raised as the group that would be reviewing this every six months. Seeing that that group does not have a consumer representative on it, I wanted to make sure that this issue is on that agenda, because a consumer will not be there to put it on the agenda. I just wanted to be clear; I was not necessarily reflecting on that. I do accept that consumers are generally consulted, but under these arrangements they are not. I note that it will arise—I will make sure it arises—under the Greens amendment that was successfully passed, which involved conducting a study of affordability of prescription medication and access to medicines. That is obviously an issue around affordability, from our perspective.

If the government could give an undertaking to ensure that the issue we are discussing is on the agenda for this consultation, I would appreciate that. I also indicate that the Greens will not move our foreshadowed amendments; obviously they will not pass. I do understand the time frames. It does not change the fact that the Greens think that the time frame is too long. We will continue to pursue this through the channels that have been established to ensure that, if the time lines can be shortened, they are shortened, because that would mean an outcome where Australians get access to cheaper medicines.