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Thursday, 12 August 2004
Page: 26378

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) (5:12 PM) —Again we are looking at two fundamentally different systems. As I understand it, the veterans body in the United States also purchases drugs. So you have different institutions—and I am not sure of the structure—with different ways of delivering products to their constituency. In Australia, the PBS system which we have is a universal system. I am not quite sure what Senator Harris is getting at, whether he is now concerned for the interests of Australian drug producers in terms of their access into the United States, which is the flipside of what we have been talking about. We sought to negotiate an agreement that gave us the widest access, which is the trade benefit, but also did not sacrifice the price protection Australians have, which is the PBS. We got the best option we could negotiate in terms of the access without having to sacrifice anything under the PBS. That is what we sought to achieve and we are pleased that we were able to achieve that outcome.