Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist May 2014 Contents Australian Pharmacist May 2014 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
The Western Australian by-election last month provided the last of a
series of interesting distractions for election observers.
The South Australian and Tasmanian
elections, while interesting, were pretty
well in line with the usual political cycle.
Labor hung in in South Australia and will
most likely go on to a huge drubbing at
the next SA election in four years just as
other Labor governments have done in
Tasmania, Queensland and NSW over the
past three years. The political cycle rolls on.
Now that these elections are out of the
way the Federal Government can focus on
honing the upcoming 2014–15 Federal
Budget – the first Coalition budget since
2007 – to be announced on 13 May.
Talk of horror budgets and deep spending
cuts have been coming thick and fast.
This is not the sort of thing pharmacists
– employees and owners – want to
hear in the wake of the Pharmacy Guild
survey released at the start of April which
predicted nearly 9,000 pharmacy jobs will
be lost in the next 12 months because of
cuts to pharmacy revenue.
In the lead up to negotiations for the
Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement,
spending cuts and job losses is the last
thing pharmacists want to contemplate.
However, there may be a light on the
horizon – not a steady bright light, but
more of a flickering, dancing light that
waxes and wanes – in the form of the
balance of power in the Senate.
Now that the WA Senate by-election is
out of the way the makeup of the new
post-June Senate is settled. After June
the cross-benches will be home to an
unprecedented 18 minor party and
If the Liberal Party wins the sixth WA
Senate seat, the Government will need
to attract an extra six votes to pass
legislation. If Labor wins it will need an
extra seven votes. The question is – where
will these votes come from?
The Greens will have 10 seats and the
Palmer United Party will have three,
perhaps four if you count the alliance with
Motoring Enthusiast’s Ricky Muir. Then
there is Nick Xenophon, the Democratic
Labor Party’s John Madigan, Family First’s
Bob Day and the Liberal Democratic
Party’s David Leyonhjelm.
Getting legislation through the Senate
is going to take a huge amount of
negotiation, charm and persuasion by
the Government to cobble together
support for its legislative program. Given
the diversity of political views among the
18 cross benchers, the PM, Treasurer Joe
Hockey and Senate leader Eric Abetz will
need more than flowers to woo enough
of them to vote the right way.
The art of negotiation involves compromise.
Once the nasties (what constitutes being
described as a nasty will vary between
cross benchers) in the budget have been
though a no doubt tortuous and prolonged
negotiation process they are unlikely to be
quite as nasty. In some cases they are likely
to have disappeared completely.
Remember Clive Palmer, the man who’s
party controls three or four Senate seats
which makes him pivotal in getting
legislation though the Senate, the man
Tony Abbott accused of trying to buy seats
in the WA Senate by-election? Like it or
not, Tony Abbott needs his support. And
it will need more than budgie smugglers
and a bicycle to get it. The alternative is for
the Government to cosy up to the Greens.
Stranger things have happened in politics.
All this diversity in the Senate also makes
the task for the Pharmacy Guild and its
collaborators more complicated when
it comes to gathering Senate support
for the 6CPA legislation once it has been
hammered out with the Government.
Thanks to the Consumer Health Forum and
others, community pharmacy agreements
are firmly entrenched on the political radar
of the Greens and other crossbenchers as
something to be dissected and debated.
No wonder the Pharmacy Guild convened
a forum of stakeholders in March to discuss
How successful the Government is at
getting its legislation through the Senate
will depend on how effectively Tony
Abbott can ditch the knuckle merchant
image and become a master negotiator.
After all he has plenty of negotiation
experience. Just ask PSA NSW President
John Bronger who negotiated the Fourth
CPA with him.
In the meantime how does Sir Clive Palmer,
Sir Nick Xenophon or Dame Christine Milne
sound to you? Too far fetched?
Musical chairs in
» CANBERRA COMMENTARY
BY ANDREW DANIELS
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