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Thursday, 18 February 1971

Senator MAUNSELL (QUEENSLAND) - My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, ls it a fact that State governments, acting on the recommendation of the National Health and Medical Research Council, are enforcing the secure installation of steel safes in pharmacies for the safekeeping of prescribed drugs? ls it also a fact that this procedure has been adopted as one means of combating the trafficking in addictive and dangerous drugs in the community? If so, will the Minister give serious consideration to exempting these safes from the imposition of sales tax?


The honourable senator asks a question in relation to sales tax exemption of special types of safes which will be required in pharmacies and, indeed, hospitals and like institutions for the security of prescribed and dangerous drugs. For as long as I can remember and, I am sure, for as long as anybody here can remember there has been a requirement for certain classified drugs to be put in a certain area. For instance, a pharmacist has to put them in a cupboard and a hospital has them in a drug cupboard and the key is the responsibility of the matron or of a designated officer such as a medical officer. With the advent of the drug problem there have been a good number of breaking and entering cases where the thieves have broken in for no other purpose than to obtain drugs which are readily saleable. The very fact that the drugs are in a particular area means that when the thieves break into a pharmacy they know where to go. They simply go to the drug cupboard to obtain the drugs. It has been put to me that a more simple and logical solution would be to store the dangerous drugs around the pharmacy area so that the thieves would not be able to go to a concentrated area. However, this is a matter of opinion.

I understand the requirement is now to put the drugs into special safes and the question is whether there should not be sales tax exemption for these safes. Matters of sales tax exemption are normally dealt with once a year when the Budget is being prepared. I shall refer the matter to the Treasurer. No doubt at the time the question of sales tax exemption is being looked at this matter will be given consideration along with other matters.

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