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Thursday, 12 August 2004
Page: 26384

Senator NETTLE (5:40 PM) —It is an answer, Minister, for you to say, `We were given the advice that we didn't need it and we rejected it in 2000.'

Senator Hill —No, I didn't say that.

Senator NETTLE —Your information is on the record. The answer that you have given is that you believe there were other benefits in the trade agreement which outweighed the argument of the Australian government continuing to stick to the position they held in 2000 that our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme does not need an independent review or appeal mechanism. That is an answer, and I thank you for giving that answer. You have made it perfectly clear why the Australian government changed their position from the position they held in 2000.

In an answer that the minister gave he put forward the argument that this review mechanism does not result in any changes of pricing for the pharmaceuticals involved. Can the minister explain why the side letter, at point 4 relating to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, says:

Australia shall provide opportunities to apply for an adjustment to a reimbursement amount.

If that is not about providing an opportunity to change the price that the Australian government pays to pharmaceutical companies in the United States, can the minister explain what that point refers to: `an adjustment to a reimbursement amount' in the side letter on the PBS?