On 30 November 2023, the Hon Shannon Fentiman MP, Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services and Minister for Women, introduced the Pharmacy Business Ownership Bill 2023 into the Queensland Parliament.
The Bill was referred to the Economics and Governance Committee for its detailed consideration and report to the Parliament by 8 March 2024.
Objectives of the Bill
The Bill would repeal the Pharmacy Business Ownership Act 2001 (2001 Act), which has been in place for over 20 years and has been significantly amended during the time. The Bill seeks to replace the 2001 Act with a modern and effective framework for regulation of the ownership of pharmacy businesses, as informed by the Government Response to particular recommendations of the former Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee of the Queensland Parliament, in its Report No. 12, 56th Parliament – Inquiry into the establishment of a pharmacy council and transfer of pharmacy ownership in Queensland.
While the Guild is generally pleased with the progress of the Bill after years of work with the Queensland Government, there are still some parts of the Bill that need further consideration. While your Guild is working hard on your behalf to ensure that this Bill meets both the needs of patients and of pharmacy business owners, we again need your participation in this next stage of the legislative process.
Call for submissions
The committee is inviting any interested parties to provide input into its examination of the Bill by making a written submission addressing any aspect of the proposed provisions or any related considerations.
Submissionson the Bill are due to the committee by 5pm on Friday, 19 January 2024.
An information sheet which provides guidelines on making a submission can be found at:
Submissions can be made online via the committee’s webpage, or can be sent to:
Economics and Governance Committee
Brisbane Qld 4000
Submissions should include:
- the author’s name and signature
- if the submission is made on behalf of an organisation, the level of approval (e.g. a local branch, executive committee or national organisation)
- mailing address (and email if available), and
- daytime telephone number.
*Please ensure your submission includes the above information or it may not be considered by the committee.
Your Guild has undertaken an extensive review of the current ownership provisions in the Pharmacy Business Ownership Act (PBOA), best practice legislation from other Australian jurisdictions and also several key recommendations put forward as part of the 2018 Inquiry into the establishment of a pharmacy council and the transfer of pharmacy ownership in Queensland1 with the aim to strengthen the current Act and to ensure that Queensland Health, as the regulator, does its job properly. A job the Queensland Auditor-General says it has failed to do.
This Bill has been a long time coming. Below is a brief summary of the process to date.
- 3 May 2018 – Inquiry into the establishment of a pharmacy council and the transfer of pharmacy ownership in Queensland commenced2.
- 28 September 2018 - Queensland Audit Office (QAO) Report 4: Managing transfers in pharmacy ownership was tabled3.
QAO stated in its report ‘We concluded the Department of Health has not taken all reasonable steps to ensure the objects of the Pharmacy Business Ownership Act 2001 are being met. Gaps in the department’s processes and systems have resulted in it not having sufficient appropriate information about pharmacy ownership transfers. This means we have been unable to completely assess its compliance with the Act in administering the transfers over the last two years.’4
- 16 October 2018 - Inquiry Report No. 12, 56th Parliament - Inquiry into the establishment of a pharmacy council and transfer of pharmacy ownership in Queensland tabled5.
- 16 April 2019 - Queensland Government response to Inquiry tabled6
- All the recommendations made by the Committee were accepted in full or in-principle with the Government response also proposing amendment to the PBOA to introduce a new licensing scheme.
- 13 August 2019 - The Interim Pharmacy Roundtable (IPR) held its inaugural meeting.
- 11 May 2020 - Letter from the Director-General, Queensland Health, providing a progress report on response to the committee's inquiry into the establishment of a pharmacy council and transfer of pharmacy ownership in Queensland7
- Recommendation 6 – permanent establishment of Pharmacy Council – delayed with timeframes unknown.
- Recommendation 7 - within 12 months of tabling the Inquiry report, the Department request a review by the QAO on progress to date. The Department wrote to the QAO to request review however was advised by QAO that they would undertake the follow up audit 12 months after the new legislation has been in force – delayed with timeframes unknown.
- Recommendation 8 – PBOA amendments to enable the Department to more effectively manage pharmacy ownership and the objects of PBOA – delayed with timeframes unknown.
- July 2020 to September 2020 - Proposed Regulatory Fees and Licensing Framework for Pharmacy Ownership in Queensland Consultation - Regulatory Impact Statement8
- No outcomes or the Decision RIS have been released publicly to date.
- 26 October 2020 - Election commitment from Steven Miles, Deputy Premier of Queensland.
- ‘I’m pleased to confirm that if re-elected, the Palaszczuk Labor Government will continue to support for the current system of community pharmacy and the requirements currently included in the Pharmacy Business Ownership Act 2001 (PBOA) – that pharmacies must be owned only by pharmacists. This extends to continuing our work to implement the Government Response to the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee Report No.121 which includes a Queensland Pharmacy Council that is focused on Pharmacy Business Ownership.’
- 5 November 2020 - Guild response to RIS
- Pharmacy Council should have narrow remit – only uphold intent of PBOA through reviewing all license applications and renewals (monitoring and enforcement) and make recommendations to head of power on how to proceed with each application.
- The council membership should only include community pharmacy owners.
- Provided no comment of model of fees for licensing framework without clarity on role of council. Though it was noted the proposed fees in RIS seemed high.
- 13 July 2021 - Interim Pharmacy Roundtable (IPR) Advice to Queensland Health: Pharmacy Business and External Control paper submitted to Dr Keith McNeil, Acting Deputy Director General, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Clinical Information Officer following the 3 June 2021 meeting outcome.
- The paper recommends amendments to the PBOA to support the Objects and enforcement.
- 17 September 2021 – Minister for Health and Ambulances Services acknowledges receipt of IPR advice paper and asks Department to consider.
- 3 August 2021 - Invitation to members of the IPR to extend their appointment for a further 12 months.
- The initial letter of appointment noted that the IPR would operate for a period of up to one year while the Queensland Pharmacy Council was established.
- The latest appointment extends the IPR time since establishment to 3 years.
- August 2022 – Queensland Health contacted all members of the IPR to discuss ongoing role of IPR and the appointment of a new Chairperson (due to the retirement of the previous Chairperson).
- 4 October 2022 – Queensland Health releases the exposure draft of the Pharmacy Business Ownership Bill 2022 – seeking feedback by COB Tuesday 25 October 2022.
- 27 February 2023 - Queensland Health releases the second draft of the Pharmacy Business Ownership Bill 2022 – seeking feedback by COB Tuesday 13 March 2023.
- 13 March 2023 - Submissions of feedback from Queensland community pharmacy owners close at 5:00pm.
- 30 November 2023 –The Pharmacy Business Ownership Bill 2023 was introduced into the Queensland Parliament
- 19 January 2024 – submissions on the Bill are due to the Economics and Governance Committee
- 8 March 2024 – Economics and Governance Committee due to report detailed consideration of the Bill to the Parliament
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