Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 12 August 2004
Page: 26381

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) (5:24 PM) —Senators have raised a whole range of questions that would have been far more appropriately directed to the two detailed parliamentary inquiries that examined this matter. When the experts were sitting across the table, you could have had a person-on-person exchange for hours, but I will do my best. I have taken questions now from three honourable senators and am having trouble keeping track of them, so I will stick to Senator Ridgeway's questions for the moment.

Senator Ridgeway was developing an argument that there is evidence of drug companies being able to successfully exert power within the US system and was asking why that will not happen here. I think the answer to that is the one that I gave: we have a fundamentally different system. Yes, there can be a review of a decision not to list, but the review process does not have the power to overturn the listing decisions. Therefore, as I said, I certainly cannot see a downside in that or how that can lead to any unreasonable pressure. I would have thought the Democrats would say that, if it leads to greater transparency and more information on the table, it is probably a good outcome.

Senator Ridgeway —Why is it there?

Senator HILL —It is there because it was sought, and we could see no downside. That is the nature of this negotiation. Each side obviously tried to argue for the greatest transparency in the other side's system. Within that there is a certain discipline, and that is probably a good thing. It is hard to quarrel against having the information on the table. The real issue for Australians is whether the Australian PBS and the benefits it provides in subsidised medicines will be under threat, and clearly they will not be.