JOURNALIST: Why is the Coalition going to be trying to block the cheaper medicines today?
JANE HUME: Well, we support 60 Day dispensing as a cost of living measure and we support cheaper medicines. But the problem is, this policy may actually backfire and cost some of Australia's most vulnerable even more. We want to see the policy done right. That's why we want to see a new Community Pharmacy Agreement negotiated prior to 60 day dispensing coming in and want to make sure that pharmacies are consulted, so that potentially communities that rely on their local pharmacy for potentially the only health care that they might receive aren't left without community pharmacy services. We want to make sure that those on gold cards versus on concession cards that reach the safety net thresholds don't actually really reach that threshold at a later date receiving free medicines later. And we also want to make sure that those services like dispensing of Webster packs or assisting aged care services don't fall by the wayside because pharmacies can no longer afford to deliver those services.
JOURNALIST: Won’t this backfire on you that ultimately, the result of this if this gets up today is just standing in the way of 6 million Australians getting cheaper medicine?
JANE HUME: Let me be very clear. We support 60 Day dispensing as a cost of living measure-
JOURNALIST: But you're going to vote against it?
JANE HUME: We support cheaper medicines, but this policy was rushed. They didn't consult with the pharmacies that are affected by it. We want to make sure that it is done right and all it will take is consultation. Because it's not fair that pharmacists, and small businesses should pick up the tab for Labor's cost of living crisis.
JOURNALIST: So Australians should pay the cost because the government hasn't done the negotiations right? If you're an everyday Australian, you're going to not get a cheaper medicine September 1, if this happens in the Senate today.
JANE HUME: If Labor consult with the pharmacy community, well, then this policy can be done right. That's what we're asking for. We want to see a new community pharmacy agreement that will make sure that pharmacies can pass on cheaper medicine 60 Day dispensing can be delivered, but not at the expense of the services that communities rely upon and certainly not at the expense of those communities that might lose services altogether.
JOURNALIST: What do you make of Mark Butler now threatening to tear up that negotiation with the Pharmacy Guild?
JANE HUME: Well, quite frankly, Mark Butler botched this in the first place. It's now up to the government to come back to the table to speak to those that are affected so that they aren't those unintended consequences. Let me be clear, this policy is well intentioned. 60 day dispensing is convenient and is a cost of living measure. We want cheaper medicines, but we want this done right so that the most vulnerable and so that potentially regional and rural communities don't suffer as a consequence.