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An outstanding life: John Cyril James Matthews

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia notes with sadness the passing of Mr John Matthews — an outstanding community pharmacist, businessman, mentor and community leader.

The National President of the Guild, George Tambassis, said John Matthews had an extraordinary life and contributed immensely to the world of pharmacy, pharmaceutical wholesaling, and politics in NSW.

“He was in many ways a revered elder statesman of community pharmacy — a wily character with a strategic mind and a genial nature. He is remembered very fondly by many in the Guild community,” Mr Tambassis said.

The President of the NSW Branch of the Guild, David Heffernan, said: “John Matthews had an enduring and significant impact on the world of community pharmacy, maintaining his influence and providing wise counsel to those he mentored for many years.”

Among his many achievements, Mr Matthews is credited with being the father of the pharmacy location rules, through a proposal he developed in the 1970s that approvals to dispense Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines should be controlled by the government on the basis of need in the area, providing efficiencies for government and economies of scale for local pharmacies.

It wasn’t until 1991 that the department of health implemented the core elements of his proposal to form the original location rules in the first Community Pharmacy Agreement – rules which continue to benefit consumers today.

Born 11 February 1928, the Hon. John Cyril James Matthews was a member of the NSW Branch of the Pharmacy Guild from 1967 until 1982, and in 2005 was made an Honorary Life Member.

A pharmacy graduate of the University of Sydney, Mr Matthews worked as a pharmacist in Bathurst, and in 1965 he was elected to Bathurst City Council and subsequently became the Mayor.

In 1973 he became a member of the State executive of the Liberal Party, becoming the State party’s treasurer in 1979.

He was elected to the NSW Legislative Council as a Liberal member in 1981 and in 1984 he became Opposition Finance Spokesman, a position he held until 1987. He left the Legislative Council in 1991.

He joined the board of Australian Pharmaceutical Industries in 1975, becoming Chair in 1982 and retiring in 2001.

He will be remembered as a pharmacist, distinguished civic leader of Bathurst and servant of the people of New South Wales.

In his erudite history of the Pharmacy Guild, Stephen Greenwood summed up John Matthews thus: “The Hon John Matthews stands out as one of pharmacy’s true heroes. His early leadership in the Guild and later in politics, as Chair of API, enabled pharmacy to prosper and the community to benefit from his far-sighted understanding of innovative professional services.”

The Pharmacy Guild extends condolences to Mr Matthews’ family. A funeral will be held in Sydney on Tuesday 3 September.

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