Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist Nov 2013 Contents Australian Pharmacist November 2013 I © Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
The more things
A new government, new faces and the
reality that often the more things change the
more they stay the same. That is Canberra at
The first few months of any new government
are filled with excitement and expectation –
and often a bit of fear and trepidation as to
just what the government will do.
The long-standing belief is that new
governments know they can usually get
all the nasty stuff out of the way early as
they have three years before they face
the electorate again. And, in those three
years history has shown that most voters
forget they felt some pain from the new
government in its early years.
The other truism in Canberra is that Labor
governments tend to be ‘reformist’ in
the area of social conscience and welfare
while Coalition governments are more
pragmatic in helping business and industry.
A positive for the small business that is
This new Coalition Government has
met many of these expectations, and
confounded others. It has instituted some
pain, mainly in the bureaucracy, but this
was expected and heralded from the very
start of the election campaign. We all
knew that a Coalition government would
take the paring knife to the Public Service
and it did not disappoint with many jobs
This has caused great angst in Canberra
but frankly the rest of the country probably
couldn’t care less so for the government it
is a win-win – it has cut costs, reshaped the
public service the way it wants and it doesn’t
lose any votes because Canberra is such
a Labor town that little the Coalition does
makes any difference to its overall electoral
However, what it means for those like
PSA who deal with the government and
bureaucracy daily is that the dynamics have
changed and are continuing to change as
the new government settles in. Many of the
bureaucrats we are used to dealing with
are still there, but there are some new faces
The biggest changes of course are at
Parliament House where a government
coming in from opposition faces the
huge task of hiring staff, finding advisers
and policy developers, establishing
administrative protocols and all the other
trappings of government that make it
both workable and at times infuriatingly
frustrating. But it works.
And what works for us is that PSA has
always maintained a very even hand
in dealing with both government and
opposition which means that when he was
Opposition Spokesman on Health, we had a
close relationship with the now Minister for
Health and Sport Peter Dutton.
Our many meetings and briefings with
Minister Dutton also mean that he has
come into his new role with a good
knowledge of pharmacy and what we
do – and perhaps more importantly,
the potential for pharmacists to contribute
a lot more to the health system.
This is a great plus for the profession
because we have already laid the
foundations of a strong and workable
relationship, and on this foundation we
hope to help build opportunities to grow
the profession and improve the health
outcomes of all the communities we serve
across the whole country.
The Assistant Minister for Health, Senator
Fiona Nash, is new to the portfolio but once
again our work with the Coalition while
in opposition ensures she has plenty of
expertise on hand to turn to for advice.
I hasten to point out that this does not
mean we will get a free ride – it means only
that we have more opportunity to focus
on the issues at hand than explaining the
profession from the ground up.
We will still have to justify and explain any
proposal we put up, and justify and explain
on the basis of how our proposals meet the
government’s health reform agenda, how
they may help improve health outcomes
and how they fit with the budgetary
environments of the day.
But it doesn’t end there. There are more
than 30 new Members of Parliament who
need to be briefed on the pharmacists’ role
in the health system – including ministers
responsible for the Industry and Human
Service portfolios – all of which interface
with you, our members’ everyday practice.
It is something we will be taking forward
at PSA as we do the ground work on
In short the only way we can hope to make
an impression is if we continue to follow
my philosophy that to succeed our policies,
strategies and our proposals must meet the
criteria of being smart politics, sound policy
and satisfying members.
The Federal Election is over, we have a new Government – and now begins the
hard work for us all.
LIESEL WETT, PSA CEO
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