July 2002 issue Pharmacy Today magazine
DECISION IS FINAL
The government's position on pharmacy ownership is final, according to the Minister of Health.
If Labour is returned with the majority to govern alone after the general election, Labour will stand by the current pharmacist-only ownership provision of the Health Practitioners Competency Assurance (HPCA) Bill, she said.
Annette King made the statement after individual guild members voiced concern over a possible ownership turnaround if Labour won enough votes to govern without a coalition partner.
"I want to reassure pharmacists, the guild and society that is not the case."
Labour last month ruled out a coalition with the Greens, and remains confident it will have the numbers to govern alone.
In late May, Cabinet reversed its earlier decision to open pharmacy ownership to those outside the profession.
Both Cabinet decisions were posted on the Health Minister's web site with no accompanying public announcement.
Under the HPCA Bill, introduced to Parliament last month, pharmacists must own at least 51% of a pharmacy, but may have multiple ownership of up to five pharmacies. The Health Minister, however, will have the discretion to make exemptions allowing non-pharmacists to own and operate pharmacies.
At the recent guild Annual General Meeting, some members still voiced skepticism over "political promises" and whether the ownership battle is truly over.
Guild president Murray Burns agreed there is no 100% guarantee, particularly during the select committee stage.
But a government pledge is still of significant value, he said.
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