Chaos at Question Time as dozens of white-clad pharmacists storm Parliament, calling the government a ‘liar’.
Apotheker and their allies stormed out of parliament, calling the government “liars” in chaotic scenes at the start of the new week of sessions.
Health Secretary Mark Butler poked fun at the government’s cheap drug policy during Question Time in the House of Representatives on Monday when he drew the ire of dozens of protesters – all dressed in white – in the bleachers.
Seconds after Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley accused the government of “getting thousands of dollars out of the community pharmacy,” all the white coats stood up at once and stormed out of the room.
The group booed and taunted the government, with some raising their middle fingers while others gave a “thumbs down” sign.
Shouts of “liars” echoed through the protesters’ hall as Speaker Milton Dick tried in vain to put the House of Representatives in order.
The protesters were also joined by the opposition, who also began shouting at the government, pointing fingers and drawing attention to the stands
The protesters were also joined by the opposition, who also began shouting at the government, pointing fingers and drawing attention to the stands.
It was the second eruption from the gallery and prompted a quick response from security forces, who helped usher protesters out of the spectator area and then onto the stairs.
House Speaker Tony Burke later claimed that House staffers were “abused by members of the public gallery” – a situation now under investigation.
Mr Dick said: “I warned viewers at the start of Question Time today that they were not to attend and not to interfere during Question Time.”
“Because of their behavior, they left the chamber.” Let me say this for the future: there will be no heckling from the gallery.
“For the rest of this week — and for the rest of the time I’m a speaker — that won’t happen again.”
These demonstrators had previously gathered in front of the Parliament building to protest the government’s new prescription dispensing policy
The policy requires patients to receive 60-day PBS prescriptions at the same price as their current 30-day scripts, a move pharmacists fear will force them to lay off staff and even close the store
These demonstrators had previously gathered in front of the Parliament building to protest against the government’s new regulation on dispensing prescriptions.
The policy requires patients to receive 60-day PBS prescriptions at the same price as their current 30-day scripts, a move pharmacists fear will force them to lay off staff and even close the store .
But it is expected to benefit four million Australians suffering from chronic health conditions.
Mr Butler said the scheme would bring much-needed cost relief to people so they can get the care they need.
“People with a Medicare card who purchase just one of these drugs save up to $180 each year.” Concession cardholders save $43.80 a year on each eligible drug,” he said.
The group booed and taunted the government, with some raising their middle fingers while others gave a “thumbs down” sign
The Pharmacy Guild has consistently opposed the dispensing rule, claiming it will force local pharmacies in regional areas to close.
Earlier, Nationals leader David Littleproud met with those protesters and thanked them for being “the heroes of the pandemic.”
He said, “The men and women who stayed in our communities and are now being shut out by this government because it makes political sense and saves them money.”
“What kind of government is doing this to the health workers that got us through one of the greatest challenges this country has faced since World War II?” But for the Nationals, I want to say this is deeply personal.”
Mr Littleproud is concerned about the viability of up to 400 pharmacies providing the “last line of defense of primary healthcare” in regional, rural and remote parts of Australia.
The Pharmacy Guild – which is firmly opposed to the policy – issued a statement immediately after the chaos, distancing itself from the protesters.
“The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has not been and is not today involved in organizing events in Canberra,” the statement said.