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Notice given 19 August 2003

544  Senator Ridgeway: To move—That the Senate—

(a) notes that

(i) the United States (US) Under Secretary of Commerce, Mr Grant Aldonan, has stated publicly that the US wishes to challenge reference pricing as part of the free trade agreement negotiations with Australia, saying, according to the Australian Financial Review of 13 August 2003, ‘there is a sense of unfairness in the US’ because US consumers paid high prices under a free market while consumers in Australia and elsewhere benefited from low ‘reference prices’ under schemes like the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS),

(ii) the price of pharmaceuticals and the PBS would increase significantly in Australia if our PBS ‘reference pricing scheme’ was diminished or abandoned, and

(iii) any free trade agreement with Australia must pass the US Congress; and

(b) calls on the Australian Government to:

(i) advise the US that it will not agree to change Australia’s ‘reference pricing’ on the PBS and remove the matter from US free trade agreement negotiations, and

(ii) bring any free trade agreement to the Parliament for ratification.