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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : April 2005
guild F you did not attend this year’s Aus- tralian Pharmacy Professional Con- ference and Trade Exhibition (APP), held on the Gold Coast from 3 to 6 March, then I don’t mind telling you that you missed out. APP 2005 was, in my opinion, far and away the best APP ever. Already arguably the most important event on the Aus- tralian pharmacy calendar, this year’s conference was special. APP 2005 was themed around some- thing that is critical to our very existence —the fourth five-year community phar- macy agreement. In keeping with that, it was most appro- priate that the conference was officially opened by the Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, Tony Abbott. No doubt many readers will have already heard about some of the contents of Mr Abbott’s address, but many of the key points bear reiterating. ‘There will be no time when there is not an agreement between the Guild and the Government,’ Mr Abbott said. And, if necessary, the Government will extend the current community pharmacy agreement. Mr Abbott was confident, however, that negotiations for the fourth agreement would be concluded before the 30 June deadline and said he would do everything in his power to meet that deadline. His comments relieved a lot of the concerns the profession has had as a result of delays in the agreement negotiating process. Mr Abbott once again publicly acknowledged the high standing of our profession and reiterated that, based on this standing, the profession’s commit- ment to public benefit and the excellent relationship shared by the Guild and the Government, he intended to protect tra- ditional community pharmacies. He said, while he had nothing against supermarkets like Woolworths and Coles, he saw an important distinction between general retailing and pharmacy. from the president Pharmacy Guild of Australia president John Bronger The best APP ever I Mr Abbott said the Government wanted to see plenty of competition within pharmacy, but that he didn’t want that competition to be the ‘dog eat dog’ kind. This was all great news. Worryingly, though, Mr Abbott said he saw no reason why a pharmacist should not be able to charge less than the PBS co- payment. Yet, in response to a question at the end of the presentation, he demon- strated a degree of pragmatism, saying he would be willing to change his position if compelling arguments were put to him by the Guild against it. Mr Abbott once again publicly acknowledged the high standing of our profession and reiterated that...he intended to protect traditional community pharmacies He also mooted some change with regard to location rules. Specifically, he said he would like the rules to be more flexible. Changes to the location rules would be focused on meeting community needs rather than making it open slather, he said. ‘We envision evolutionary rather than revolutionary change for this sector. We want to build on the third agreement, not turn it on its head.’ Mr Abbott said he did not view health spending as a cost, but an investment. ‘A healthy population is a more pro- ductive population.’ I, for one, was pleased to hear that the Minister viewed pharmacy as a value cen- tre rather than a cost centre. Mr Abbott’s address might have been one of the highlights of the event, but really he was just one part of a star-stud- ded line up of presenters. David Koch, one of Australia’s most respected business commentators and co- presenter on Channel Seven’s breakfast program Sunrise, presented on the topic of ‘Pharmacy in Australia—a fiscal overview’. He gave great insight into our industry as a whole and the role it plays in the greater business scene. While he mightn’t have a television program, Distinguished Professor Dexter Dunphy is definitely a star in the area of change management. His APP presenta- tion, which I had the privilege to co-pre- sent, on ‘Implementing the Guild/Gov- ernment agreement in your pharmacy— a practical guide’, helped light the way for our profession in the future. The APP 2005 Trade Exhibition was the biggest in the event’s 14-year history, with more than 120 displays of products and services. Luckily all of these highlights had an equally impressive venue to house them, with APP moving to the new multi-million dollar Gold Coast Con- vention and Exhibition Centre. Having a separate venue, yet still very handy to Conrad Jupiters, also seemed to encourage delegates to stay at the con- ference and pack out the plenaries. As I did many times at APP, I’d like to publicly and enthusiastically congratu- late and thank all those involved in putting this magnificent event together, especially the APP chairman and Queensland branch president of the Pharmacy Guild, Kos Sclavos, and the Queensland branch’s events coordina- tor, Rebecca Latiff. APP 2005 didn’t just happen. It took a huge amount of work and organisation and I just want to say that—once again—you have out-done yourselves. Of course, if you were one of the unfor- tunate souls who missed this year’s con- ference, I would highly recommend that you mark your calendar for next year’s event. There are no excuses and you will have no regrets if you get along. s THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL.86 APRIL 2005 ? 233