Deputy PM delivers keynote

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack delivered his keynote address this morning at the APP19 conference, further supporting the direction and announcements made by Health Minister Greg Hunt yesterday.

In essence, Mr McCormack confirmed that the Government is committed to supporting and helping pharmacists, healthcare professionals and the Australian families they serve.

Choosing to speak, as he put it, from the heart, Mr McCormack addressed a number of topics of interest to Community Pharmacy and Healthcare professionals and started by acknowledging the Guild and its National President George Tambassis.

“I’d like to start by thanking George for the wonderful role that he plays nationally for your organisation, and he does,” Mr McCormack said.

Acknowledging the vital work of the pharmacists and other assembled health professionals he said, “You all provide the healthcare – that frontline service – for people, particularly in rural and regional Australia.  And rural and regional Australia needs health professionals such as you, doing what you do for us.

“We recognise that as a government, we recognize that as MPs, and I certainly do. It doesn’t matter what political persuasion you are, because we need to make sure pharmacists are looked after, because you look after our communities, and communities are number one.  They have to be.”

Mr McCormack shared his views on the PBS and how the shape of the economy is a significant factor in the management of the PBS.

“You only have a stronger PBS when you have a stronger economy. You can only put more drugs on the PBS when you’re doing the right sort of things by the economy. And it is a difficult thing because there are so many competing interests.”

In response to an earlier speech from Mr Tambassis, Mr McCormack acknowledged many of the issues that he raised.

“I know we heard this morning from George Tambassis, and he is right. There are issues with scripts. There are issues with the pharmacy agreement that we always thrash out.  The fact is, we are doing our level best to make sure that you can do what you do fantastically well, for and on behalf of our communities, particularly our rural and regional communities. But we want to make it as easy for you as possible and we want to make it easy for the families of Australia.

“We want to make it easy for you to serve them, and cheaper for them to get their scripts and their medicines.

“That’s why I was delighted that yesterday Greg Hunt announced that $200 million windfall for you. That’s a good thing. I also appreciate the fact that you’re going to get paid sooner. That’s a tremendous thing too.

“The accord is always something that we need to work through in good faith, and making sure that we as a government acknowledge what you do, as pharmacists and as health professionals and at the same time, trying to balance the interests of a stable economy, trying to balance the many competing interests.

“We are making sure that we get the tax rate down to 25 per cent at a progressively continuous rate. That will be the lowest tax rate that small business such as yours will have been paying since 1940 which is 79 years and I’m pretty proud of that.

“So, we want to make sure that we continue to do the right thing by you.”

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