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Thursday, 16 February 2012
Page: 1619


Mr DUTTON (Dickson) (12:13): I move:

(1) Schedule 1, item 2, page 4 (after line 13), add:

(4) The Minister must publish statistics annually for each pharmaceutical item supplied under subsection 1.

(5) The Minister must:

   (a) cause a written report to be prepared of a review of this section no more than two years from the commencement of the section; and

   (b) cause a copy of the report to be laid before each House of the Parliament within six months of the commencement of the review.

The coalition's proposal will ensure statistics on pharmaceutical supply without prescription under continued dispensing are published annually. I note that the Department of Health and Ageing has advised in response to the coalition's concerns:

Scripts dispensed by a community pharmacy under the continued dispensing arrangements and claimed through the usual PBS claiming process via Medicare will be recorded. These items will be clearly identifiable from other medicines dispensed under the PBS. The Department of Health and Ageing intends to publish data relating to the continued dispensing initiative on an annual basis through its existing publication Expenditure and prescriptions 12 months to 30 June.'

The coalition's amendment is entirely consistent with this undertaking. It is not unusual, particularly in the health portfolio, for the publication of some statistics to be discontinued. Some stakeholders have expressed reservations with this initiative and it is appropriate that we ensure implementation and appropriation is subjected to appropriate scrutiny. The guidelines for pharmacists will require an appropriate recording mechanism and should provide a comprehensive data set. Therefore, this will not impose any additional compliance burden.

The coalition also wants to ensure the government keeps its word on conducting a review and making it available. Minister Roxon, the then Minister for Health and Ageing, stated in her second reading speech that there would be a review after two years. This was also promised in the government's consultation paper and the department's briefing paper. There is nothing presently in the legislation to this effect. I thank the minister for the undertaking in relation to the government's position on this amendment. I believe that the coalition's moving of this amendment strengthens the legislation and, again, the coalition's amendment merely ensures that a future government fulfils the commitment otherwise expressed by the government.