Guild demands ABC retraction over ALP donation claims

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia says the suggestion by ABC News this week that the Guild paid a donation to the ALP to achieve a specific policy outcome on PBS co-payments is completely false.

An ABC report claimed the pharmaceutical and health industries were among the top five donors to the Labor Party, with largest being the “powerful” Pharmacy Guild, with a donation of $139,990.

The media outlet also claimed that the Guild donated more than $82,000 of this figure on May 20 last year, two days before Labor announced its policy to oppose the Government’s increase in the co-payment for medicines.

“At the time, the powerful lobby group welcomed the announcement with a press release,” the ABC reported, adding that the Guild had said in the release: “Labor’s announcement provides patients with certainty about what they would be expected to contribute to the cost of their medicines under a Shorten government.”

The ABC also said “the powerful lobby group” had described the Coalition’s plan as “mean and tricky” and had mounted a fierce campaign against it.

Shadow Health Minister Catherine King said that despite the policy announcement, Labor had never supported the proposal.

“We voted against it in 2014, we fought it through the 44th parliament,” she said in a statement to the ABC.

The ABC said the Guild donated to the Liberals, too, but only $70,600.
The Guild said it had never run a campaign – fierce or otherwise – against the 2014 budget co-payment measures.

“At no time has the Guild ever linked such contributions to specific issues or policy decisions and this most certainly did not occur in relation to the PBS co-payment issue,” Guild Executive Director David Quilty said.

“The ABC story mistakenly mixes up the 2014 budget co-payment increases with an entirely separate Government measure in May 2015, and then uses this inaccuracy to draw a baseless inference about the Guild’s political behaviour.

“The journalist failed to take the responsible action of checking. If she had made a call to the Guild, she would have been informed of her error – in that we have never called the 2014 budget co-payment increases ‘mean and tricky’ nor run a fierce campaign against them.

“The Pharmacy Guild calls on ABC News to immediately acknowledge this error, correct the story and retract its baseless inference against the Guild.”