*Speech delivered 20 June 2023.
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The government says that pharmacies are running a scare campaign—that pharmacists want to 'clip the ticket'.
That's just not true.
I've spent the past few weeks talking to my local pharmacists in Tassie, and some of them have been in tears. They're scared. At worst, they're looking down the barrel of a policy that will see a lot of them close their doors, and, at best, the policy will see some small-business pharmacies cutting services, cutting staff and reducing opening hours.
This is what they've told me. Rhys told me about the long shifts his staff did during COVID. When the 60-day dispensing policy comes into effect, he'll have to look his staff in the eye and say, 'Thanks very much for all your hard work and all your efforts, but I'm going to have to let you go.'
Maree says Health Minister Mark Butler should visit her pharmacy in East Devonport to see what pharmacies actually do. She said that the Minister needs to see the vital services they offer for free to people that need them and how much staff care about their customers.
Luciana told me that the loss of income risks the late-night service she provides. She says it absolutely breaks her heart that she won't be able to offer her customers the support they need.
Everywhere I go at home I'm reminded of just how much our communities rely on these pharmacies. In areas like Dover, New Norfolk and Westbury, shutting a pharmacy would be shutting a healthcare lifeline.
The Minister need to go back to the table on this policy. The government should increase the dispensing fee for pharmacists in the community pharmacy agreement to cover the revenue lost by this policy.
The government say they are investing $1.2 billion back into pharmacies, but when the cost of these cuts is around $3.5 billion something doesn't add up.
I want people to have cheaper medicine, but ripping the guts out of community pharmacies isn't the way to do it.