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Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 1778

Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Health and Minister for Sport) (13:25): I thank the previous speaker and indeed all the speakers who have contributed to this debate. Let me firstly respond to the amendment moved by the shadow minister for health. The government will not be supporting the amendment, because it is clearly a political stunt.

For the PBS to continue to provide Australians with reliable, timely and affordable access to medicines, the scheme needs to be well managed. The viability of the medicines industry, pharmacies and other suppliers in Australia is absolutely paramount to the future of our country. The National Health Amendment (Simplified Price Disclosure) Bill 2013 aims to improve the operation of PBS pricing policy. The proposed changes would reduce complexity in administering price disclosure and increase its effectiveness by allowing price reductions to occur sooner, and indeed more frequently.

The aim of the changes is not to increase the magnitude of price reductions or to reduce prices below the level they would have reached under the current process; it is simply to allow PBS prices to be adjusted more quickly. Price disclosure is an established part of supplying and dispensing medicines under the PBS. Adopting a more uniform and responsive approach under simplified price disclosure would deliver savings for consumers via decreased prescription costs, would reduce PBS expenditure for taxpayers and would assist with listing of new medicines.

The PBS relies on the pharmaceutical industry and pharmacies to provide high-quality products and professional services for medicines. I acknowledge that some sectors have concerns regarding the changes. However, due to the fiscal circumstances inherited by this government, I regret to say that these changes need to proceed.

While consultation prior to the announcement of the change by the former government may have been limited, this government intends to engage with business in a very different way. We will start as we mean to continue, with consultation regarding implementation so that those affected are well informed on the changes.

Sound pricing arrangements are vital to the sustainability of the PBS. These changes would help to ensure that the government does not pay higher prices than it should otherwise pay for PBS medicines. They will also provide greater confidence that multiple-brand medicines are delivering value for money for the PBS.

I thank all members who have contributed to this debate. I commend the bill to the House.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mrs Griggs ): The original question was that this bill be now read a second time. To this the honourable member for Ballarat has moved as an amendment that all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to substituting other words. The immediate question is that the amendment be agreed to.

Question negatived.

Original question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.