Deputy Prime Minister - Transcript - Doorstop - Australian Pharmacy Professionals Conference - 8 March 2019



Can I ask about the Government’s commitment to community pharmacy?


We’re making sure that community pharmacy always – always – has the right provisions, the right economic outcomes for them. That’s why we’re building a better and stronger economy. Our focus, our whole focus is on building a better economy, making sure that there’s jobs there. Look, I understand that pharmacists want a strong accord. I understand that they want more drugs on the PBS and that’s what we’ve done as a Government over the last five, six years. We’ve made sure that we have got a strong economy, so that we can put even more drugs on the PBS - more medicines being available for ordinary everyday Australians who may need them, to feel better but also who may need them to actually save their lives. There’s no better example of that than little Jack and Annelise Golder in my electorate at Ariah Park – young people with cystic fibrosis. We’ve put Orkambi on the PBS and now they’ve got better hope for the future.

They’re the face of PBS, of what putting more drugs, putting more medicines on the PBS actually means. Their parents Chris and Renae fought very hard. They campaigned, they lobbied. But you know at the end of the day, if you don’t have a strong economy, if you as a nation are not paying your bills and it’s all too difficult – as it was under Labor – then you can’t put those sorts of lifesaving drugs and more of them on the PBS.

So that’s why I’ve fought hard. I know Greg Hunt, the Minister for Health, has made sure that we’re putting even more drugs on the PBS, to save people’s lives and to improve health outcomes.


Minister, despite that the PBS is actually shrinking in real terms under your Government; will you actually try to guarantee to increase it (inaudible)?


We’ve put more drugs on the PBS. The facts remain – under Labor that wasn’t the case. We are putting more drugs on the PBS. Yes, the economy is growing, and we want to make sure that the economy is even stronger so that we can do even more in the health space.

Of course with the pharmacists, they’re at the front line of health delivery. They’re at the front line of health service. I understand the important role that they play. We all need, at some stage or another, to use pharmacists and I will always fight for those small pharmacies, these great small businesses. They’re not dispensing medicines at bulk rates just to get goods out the door to improve their profit – they are the people who, if you need a compression stocking, that they’re willing to do it free of charge. They’re the people who are willing, late at night or whenever, to give somebody a blood pressure test and they do it free of charge. They do it willingly, because they’re part of the community. They’re part of the families and the fabric of the communities.

I understand the community pharmacy role that they play. I think it’s marvellous and that’s why I’ve come here today to address this conference. I think it’s great that we have 6,000 health professionals right across the nation. I’m absolutely thrilled that for the second year in a row, a pharmacy from my electorate – it was Southcity from Wagga Wagga last year and it’s Flannery’s from Forbes this year – have actually won the Guild Pharmacy of the Year. How good is that!


Why do you think community pharmacists are an important part of the healthcare system?


Because they’re the front line service. It comes down to trust. A lot of life comes down to trust these days – who do you trust with your health? Who do you trust with your Government? Who do you trust to do the best job? I know when it comes to health, people trust pharmacists. They trust their friendly chemist. They’ve got a friendly face. Their staff are always willing and happy to do what’s needed to get people back feeling good about themselves, back to 100% health.

That’s the role the community pharmacists play, particularly in rural and regional Australia. That’s why we’ve done everything we can with the location rules, with the PBS to make sure that we preserve and we protect pharmacies at every opportunity.


(inaudible)…announced extra funding yesterday; do you have anything to say about that?


Greg Hunt announced, what he has also done is he’s also made sure that under the agreement that pharmacists are going to get paid sooner. So that’s a good outcome. I’ve spoken to a number of pharmacists this morning: George Tambassis and Dave Heffernan who head up both the national and the NSW state bodies, and they’re delighted with what the Minister, Greg Hunt, announced yesterday. They know that when you’ve got a strong economy that you can do these sorts of things. I know Greg Hunt’s speech was received with rousing acclamation yesterday, as it should be – we’re on the pharmacists’ side. We’re on the side of better health delivery, the Federal Liberal and Nationals Government, and we’ll continue to do that for as long as we can. 


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