The May Federal Election has brought major changes to the face of government in Australia, with the election of a Labor Government and significantly, the election of a number of Greens and Independent MPs and Senators. Included in the new cohort of politicians are additional medical practitioners, which should support wider knowledge of the health care sector and the issues to be addressed: Dr Sophie Scamps, GP; Dr Monique Ryan, paediatric neurologist; Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah, infectious diseases specialist.

The AACP was in contact with the adviser to the new Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Mark Butler, prior to the election and provided input in relation to the role of consultant physicians and paediatricians and Labor Party health initiatives. We have sought an early meeting with the Minister to discuss the new Labor Government’s health priorities and issues relevant to consultant physicians and paediatricians including:

  • maintaining permanent access to the broadest range of telehealth MBS items, without restriction on access to telephone items that are essential for many patients, particularly as COVID continues to be a challenge. At present all but one telephone item for use by CPPs is scheduled to cease on 30 June 2022, a matter that raises significant concerns among our patients,
  • support for training provided by consultant physicians and paediatricians that currently receives no financial support – such support will be a valuable contribution to the Labor Government’s policy to increase the health workforce;
  • access to different options for delivery of medical services to patients, particularly those with increasingly complex conditions through the creation of specific MBS items for use by consultant physicians and paediatricians.

Mr Butler was appointed Minister for Health and Aged Care in the new Government having been shadow spokesperson for health for 18 months preceding the election. He served as a parliamentary secretary for health and as minister for mental health and aged care in previous Labor governments.

The Hon Anika Wells from Queensland has been appointed as Minister for Aged Care, a position in the outer ministry, while The Hon Ged Kearney from Victoria has been named an Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care.

The Hon Emma McBride from NSW is Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health; Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy from the Northern Territory has been appointed Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health.

The AACP is seeking meetings with all Ministers and Assistant Ministers in the broader health portfolio given the relevance of consultant physician and paediatrician input to each of these areas. If you have matters that you think should be raised, please get in touch.

The ministers of the Health portfolio were sworn in on 1 June 2022. Learn about who they are, what they are responsible for and what they do here.