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Thursday, 12 August 2004
Page: 26382

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) (5:30 PM) —The issue as to how we determine our prices under the PBS was excluded from the agreement. That was our protection. We have a system; the criteria are well known. We believe it works well and ensures affordable medicines. I am amazed to hear Senator Allison's argument. She is in effect suggesting that that system should have been thrown into the negotiation. In this place, obviously I have heard arguments for us improving our PBS, and that is a debate that can always be had, but the debate today is about the PBS in relation to the free trade agreement with the United States, the opportunity for greater access into the US market. As I said, interference with our PBS was a no-go zone for us in this negotiation. We were not prepared to put that on the table. We did not have to. We got a reasonable outcome in terms of increased access without putting it on the table. That is why I say we achieved a win-win outcome.