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Monday, 22 November 2010
Page: 1797

Senator XENOPHON (7:34 PM) —I apologise for delaying the Senate’s time in relation to this, but I will be brief. I am not in a position to support Senator Fierravanti-Wells’s second reading amendment to the National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) Bill 2010. I understand the reasons for the amendment and I understand the background to this matter. Also, I am grateful for the time that Mr Peter Dutton, the shadow health minister, and Senator Trood have given me in relation to this. It is my view that there has been consultation between the various parties. I and staff in my office have spoken extensively to the group representing generic medicines in Australia. There is a significant budgetary impact in relation to this measure. I will move an alternative amendment, which has been circulated, that will allow for further consultation on a regular basis. There is a real risk that the matters raised in Senator Fierravanti-Wells’s amendment will unnecessarily delay that. There has been a consultation process in relation to the MOU and parties were invited to participate in that. I note that the Pharmacy Guild of Australia has signed off on this and I think Medicines Australia has signed off on this. I know that the generic medicines industry has been unhappy with the process, but I am satisfied that the second reading amendment that I propose to move shortly will deal adequately with the issues. That amendment will be moved in my name and in the name of Senator Fielding.

I do understand the concerns of the generic medicine sector regarding the perceived lack of consultation and that they believe there will be an impact on their business; however, I believe that there are important savings that can be made and that can be reasonably met. I have heard the concerns of the generic medicine sector and I have worked with the government to move the second reading amendment in my name and Senator Fielding’s name. I will do so shortly, and I believe it will give support to the generic medicine sector. I believe that to do otherwise would be to unreasonably delay this bill. In the circumstances I cannot support the amendment moved by Senator Fierravanti-Wells on behalf of the opposition.

Question put:

That the amendment (Senator Fierravanti-Wells’s) be agreed to.