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Wednesday, 1 April 1987
Page: 1917

Mr PORTER —I thank the House and the Government; I shall take only a couple of minutes. The Minister then said that instead of pro- cessing all those claims the Government is going to pay compensation made up in two parts. Firstly, he will have a guess at what the pharmacist is actually owed-that is, the amount the pharmacist has been underpaid under this averaging arrangement-and, secondly, compensation will be made for the costs incurred by the pharmacist because of the delay in payment. That, he says, will be 10c per prescription. We understand that there are some 60 million prescriptions outstanding and so we are looking at the payment of some $6m as Government compensation to chemists arising out of the incompetent administration of the pharmpay system. Of course the pharmacists are entitled to be paid for the losses they have incurred as a result of this Government's failure to pay its debts on time. For the last three years the Minister for Health has stumbled, fumbled and bluffed his way through the administration of pharmpay, spending some $26m a year for 850 data entry clerks to sit at hundreds of data entry terminals duplicating the job which has already been done by the pharmacists. They have been unable to keep up with the work load and now the Government is asking the Australian people to pay $6m to cover the cost of its incompetence. This is a grotesque waste of taxpayers' funds and is yet another example of this Government's administrative incompetence.