Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist January 2015 Contents Australian Pharmacist January 2015 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
Happy New Year and welcome to 2015. It promises to be an
One important issue, aside from the
looming Sixth Community Pharmacy
Agreement, pharmacists have to look
forward to early in the year is debate on a
private member’s Bill to make medicinal
cannabis available in Australia.
On 27 November, Greens Senator
Richard Di Natale, Co-convenor of the
Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy and
Law Reform, introduced the Regulator of
Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2014.
Given the potentially divisive and
contentious nature of the Bill, it is worth
noting that the Bill had bipartisan
support and was cosponsored by
Liberal National Party Senator Ian
MacDonald, Liberal Democratic Party
Senator David Leyonhjelm and Labor
Senator Anne Urquhart. This rare show
of bipartisanship alone makes the Bill’s
progress through Parliament worth
Senator Di Natale said: ‘Let’s be clear –
this is not a Greens bill, a Labor bill or a
Liberal bill – this is a bill that the whole
parliament can own. And hopefully
it’s a bill that the whole parliament
can vote for. This bill is about giving
people access to medicine that provides
relief from severe pain and suffering.
An independent regulator would be
responsible for licensing the growing,
manufacturing and distribution of
medicinal cannabis. It will use clinical
evidence to determine the limited set of
conditions for which medicinal cannabis
can be prescribed.’
However, the really interesting thing
about 2015 is that the political cycle
ticks over into mid-term. In March/April
the Abbott Government will reach the
half-way mark of its first term.
The demise of the Victorian Coalition
Government after one term has killed
the assumption that governments
always get a second term. This must
have made Federal Coalition senators
and Members squirm uncomfortably
coming as it did at the end of an
incredibly tough first year for the Abbott
It was a year where many of the central
initiatives in its first budget have been
rejected or watered down. The GP
co-payment has been dumped.
A year when Prime Minister Abbott and
the Coalition Government nosedived in
the opinion polls.
At a media conference on the Monday
after the Victorian election Mr Abbott
remained upbeat and emphasised the
Federal Government’s achievements.
He told the assembled journalists: ‘I do
believe that by any reasonable measure,
this has been a year of very considerable
achievement for the Government.
‘ The carbon tax is gone. The mining
tax is gone. The boats are stopping.
The roads are building. The Budget is
coming into better shape. The three
Free Trade Agreements that have been
successfully negotiated will set our
country up for the long-term. So, I really
do think that this has been a year of very
substantial achievement,’ Mr Abbott
This is all true but it’s the things which
haven’t succeeded that dominate the
headlines. It will be interesting to see
if in 2015 the Abbott Government is
able to successfully negotiate with
the Senate crossbench to get its
One potential opportunity for the
Government is that once the half-way
mark of its term ticks over the electoral
cycle moves into the countdown to
the next election. The Opposition will
have to start mapping out its alternate
program. This will give the Government
more scope to attack the Opposition for
something other than a budget black
hole many voters don’t believe exists.
The Opposition Leader, Mr Bill Shorten,
has already hinted broadly that he
is not going to follow a small target
strategy into the countdown to the
next election. Speaking at the National
Press Club on 26 November Mr Shorten
said: ‘2014 was defined by the force of
Labor’s resistance, today I commit to
you that Labor will be defined in 2015
by the power of our ideas. We will seek a
mandate based on a positive plan.
‘We will not ask the Australian people to
vote for us, just because we are not the
Abbott Government,’ Mr Shorten said.
Yes, 2015 is going to be an interesting
BY ANDREW DANIELS
» CANBERRA COMMENTARY
Andrew Daniels is Managing Editor of Australian
Pharmacist. Opinions expressed in this column are
not necessarily those of the Pharmaceutical Society,
its Board or staff.
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