Experienced hands hold on to health
Health Minister Sussan Ley and her Opposition counterpart Catherine King have held on to their portfolios following the tight Federal election in which health policy was a key battleground.
In the days following the election there were rumblings in both major parties regarding the performance of their respective health spokeswomen, but both Ms Ley and Ms King were confirmed in their positons when the Coalition and Labor frontbenchers for the new term of Parliament were announced.
AMA President Dr Michael Gannon welcomed the outcome.
“The health sector and patients are very fortunate to have two experienced and consultative operators in Sussan Ley and Catherine King back in charge of health for the Government and Opposition,” Dr Gannon said. “They know the issues, they seek advice from health professionals, and they will be strong voices in the respective parties to ensure Australian voters will be offered positive health policies at the next election.”
While there is stability at the top, there has been a significant change in Ms Ley’s office. She has appointed experienced health bureaucrat and policy adviser Dr Lisa Studdert as her Chief of Staff to replace the recently departed Craig Bosworth.
Dr Studdert was most recently First Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health's Population Health and Sport Division, and has previously worked in the Therapeutic Goods Administration and as an adviser on public and Indigenous health to former Health Minister Dr Michael Wooldridge.
In a sign that Labor is intent on keeping health and Medicare on the political frontline in the next three years, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has added “Medicare” to Ms King’s title and has appointed South Australian MP and former national powerlifting champion Tony Zappia as Shadow Assistant Minister for Medicare.
Alert to the threat after Labor’s success in the election campaigning on Medicare, Ms Ley said one of the tasks confronting the Government was “protecting the future of Medicare and ensuring it remains universally accessible to all Australians”.
But, in a taste of things to come, Ms King renewed her attack on the Coalition’s health policy, particularly Medicare.
“The Turnbull Government remains committed to undermining Medicare through its ongoing freeze on GP rebates, and its determination to make further cuts through its attacks on pathology and diagnostic imaging as soon as Parliament resumes,” the Shadow Minister said. “As we did in the last Parliament, Labor will once again resist furiously any attempts to attack bulk billing, increase out-of-pocket costs and undermine the rights of all Australians to access decent, affordable health care.”
Ms Ley will be supported in her portfolio by Western Australian MP Ken Wyatt, who continues in his role as Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care. Following the promotion of Nationals Senator Fiona Nash to be Minister for Regional Communications, she has been replaced in her rural health role by Dr David Gillespie, who has been appointed Assistant Minister for Rural Health.
On the Labor side, Julie Collins has been appointed Shadow Minister for Ageing and Mental Health, and Senator Helen Polley has been made Shadow Assistant Minister for Ageing.
Minister for Health and Aged Care Sussan Ley
Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare Catherine King
Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ken Wyatt
Shadow Assistant Minister for Medicare Tony Zappia
Assistant Minister for Rural Health Dr David Gillespie
Shadow Minister for Ageing and Mental Health Julie Collins
Shadow Assistant Minister for Ageing Senator Helen Polley
Published: 02 Aug 2016