Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist June 2014 Contents Australian Pharmacist June 2014 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
The 2014–15 Federal Budget was billed as the biggest horror show since
the last series of True Blood, the cult US television show featuring vampire
Bill and buckets of blood. And Treasurer, Joe Hockey did not disappoint.
However, the day after the budget the
sun came up as usual. Admittedly the
Budget did suck the life out of quite a
few government instrumentalities and
agencies; the Preventive Health Agency
and Health Workforce Australia included.
Many were outraged. The Doctor’s
Reform Society declared the Budget
as the ‘murder of Medicare’ and the
Public Health Association of Australia
called it a ‘killer budget; kicking people
when they’re down’. Even the Australian
Medical Association called it a ‘health
budget full of pain for patients’.
The Labor Opposition predictably
hammered the Prime Minister and his
government for delivering a budget of
‘full of broken promises’ with Australians
‘being made to pay Abbott’s inability
to keep promises he made before
Some supported the Government.
The Business Council of Australia, while
praising the budget as a ‘solid start to
putting the fiscal strategy back on track,’
warned that ‘changes to health and
social security arrangements need to be
implemented carefully and sensitively to
ensure the safety net remains for those
who need it most’.
On ABC radio Mr Hockey said it was ‘not
a question of who’s wearing the pain;
it’s about everyone being asked to make
a contribution in order to build things
that build us a strong future’.
‘ The big one,’ he said, ‘is if people are
prepared to make co-contributions
of $7 towards a visit to the GP with
appropriate safety nets, you’re going
to see all the money, all the money,
go into the biggest stand-alone medical
research fund in the world. This is
what we’re good at: medical research.
Australians being creative and, my
god, if they find a cure for cancer, or
Alzheimer’s... we can lead the world in
Yes, the Health Research Future Fund is a
However, asking sick people to pay for
a research fund is a pretty hard one
to sell as those sick people paying the
$7 co-payment will be more interested
in seeing a doctor to have their problem
dealt with, than contributing to a fund
that might one day cure cancer. I guess
it’s a matter of priorities.
From pharmacy’s perspective it is
interesting to see what was not in
the budget. Pharmacy owners will be
relieved that the Commission of Audit
recommendations on deregulating
pharmacy ownership and location
rules were not included. Nor was
the PBS remodelled in the image of
New Zealand’s PHARMAC system as
recommended by the Commission
Still there is plenty of time for the
Government to wave that stick around
when it negotiates the next community
pharmacy agreement due next year.
One opportunity for pharmacy might
come in the area of preventive health.
The Australian National Preventive
Health Agency is to be abolished. But
the Government remains committed
to preventive health. In his second
reading speech for the Australian
Preventive Health Agency (Abolition)
Bill, Health Minister Peter Dutton
said that ‘an effective health system
includes supporting preventive health.’
The Department of Health will take over
the agency’s functions.
PSA had no luck with its budget
proposal (see President says, page 1)
for ‘strategies and policies to use
pharmacists to improve the health and
wellbeing of the community while also
helping to ensure we maintain a viable
and sustainable health system’.
Perhaps next year, when the
Government has cleared away the
detritus of the Rudd/Gillard years, it will
be more receptive to positive proposals,
especially ones that will help recapture
the hearts and votes of all those
alienated by the 2014–15 Budget.
» CANBERRA COMMENTARY
BY ANDREW DANIELS
5/16/14 9:38 AM
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