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The order of the day having been read for the second reading—Ms Worth (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing) moved—That the Bill be now read a second time.


Ms Worth presented an explanatory memorandum to the Bill.

Debate ensued.

Ms Gillard moved, as an amendment—That all words after "That" be omitted with a view to substituting the following words: "whilst not declining to give the Bill a second reading, the House condemns the Government for:

(1) planning to cover up bulk billing figures by electorate until after the next election;

(2) causing a bulk billing crisis;

(3) trying to divert attention from its plans to destroy Medicare by introducing so-called `safety net' arrangements which will make 98% of Australians worse off and which will waste $72 million of precious health dollars on administration; and

(4) consistently ignoring the advice of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee thus depriving many sick Australians of affordable access to cost-effective medications while agreeing to a Free Trade Agreement with the USA which:

 (a) has the potential to undermine the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme over time through the establishment of an on going Australia/USA Medicines Working Group;

(b) has ensured US Pharmaceutical companies can challenge the decisions of the expert committees that advise government on PBS listing and price;

(c) may force changes to the current Australian blood plasma fractionation arrangements with consequences for the safety of blood products; and

(d) may result in job losses in Australian firms which manufacture generic medicines as a result of changes to patents and intellectual property protection".

Debate continued.

Debate adjourned (Mr Ruddock—Attorney-General), and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour this day.