Official pharmacy bodies paid tribute to former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who died on last night (May 16), as a leader who understood the importance of community pharmacy to the health and wellbeing of all communities across Australia.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia National President George Tambassis says Mr Hawke had helped Australia realise the concept of universal health care through the introduction of Medicare. As Prime Minister Mr Hawke also guided the development and implementation of the First Community Pharmacy Agreement, and those agreements continue to be the foundation of the community pharmacy industry today.
“This universality of access introduced with Medicare is a key principle of the healthcare sector in Australia, particularly community pharmacy, and Bob Hawke was an early driver of this,” Mr Tambassis said.
“The relationship between the Guild and Mr Hawke was robust and we certainly did not agree at times. In fact, in Mr Hawke’s own words to a Guild Annual General Meeting in 1990: ‘Over the last 12 months the federal government and the Pharmacy Guild had something of a blue and it was a beauty.’
“But Mr Hawke continued to be a strong supporter of community pharmacy and recognised just how important a viable community pharmacy sector is to the country.
“He leaves a great legacy, not only in health but in nearly all areas of everyday life in Australia. On behalf of the Guild I extend our condolences and sympathy to his family. ”
Colin Johns OAM, former Guild President who dealt with Mr Hawke during much of the former Prime Minister’s time in politics says he was very saddened to hear of his death.
“We had a close working relationship while he was PM,” Mr Johns said.
“We became good friends after the Pharmacy Dispute.
“Bob’s personal assistant Peter Reid, a close friend of mine, told Bob: ‘See you can trust Colin.’
“He was a Great PM, wonderful to work with, who understood community pharmacy.
“I once told him that the PGA is a union and that you understand how unions work.”
Tribute also flowed from the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and its members, where its National President Chris Freeman, said: “I recognise the pivotal role Bob Hawke played in establishing Australia’s world-class healthcare system, and extend my condolences to his family and the Australian Labor Party.
“Through the implementation of Medicare Mr Hawke gave Australians universal and unprecedented access to healthcare.
“He was not only a champion of healthcare, but of the professionals who provide these services. In acknowledging the vital role of pharmacists he set the groundwork for many of the agreements and programs we have in place today.
“Mr Hawke leaves behind many enduring legacies which changed the Australian health landscape for the better.”