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Minister for Health (Australia)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Minister for Health
Greg Hunt

since 28 August 2018
Department of Health
StyleThe Honourable
AppointerGovernor-General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister of Australia
Inaugural holderFrank Tudor
Formation13 November 1908
Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians
Richard Colbeck

since 26 May 2019
Department of Health
StyleThe Honourable
AppointerGovernor-General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister of Australia
Inaugural holderWarren Snowdon
Formation9 June 2009

The Australian Minister for Health is responsible for national health and wellbeing and medical research. The Hon Greg Hunt MP has served as Minister for Health since 2017, and briefly left office in 2018 following criticism of the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull.[1]

The Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians is Richard Colbeck since May 2019. Ken Wyatt AM, MP held the position from 2017 to 2018, having previously served as the Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care since September 2015.[1][2][3]

In the Government of Australia, the ministers are responsible for national health and medical research policy. The minister provides direction and oversight of the Department of Health.

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  • ✪ Q&A: The Value of the Australian Health System - Hon Sussan Ley MP
  • ✪ Australian Education Minister Discusses School Reform


[ Music ] >> Thanks Minister. My question relates to the pharmaceutical benefits scheme and I acknowledge that you have introduced some changes that will lead to some modest improvements in pricing, but the Grattan Institute's produced a number of reports over the last couple of years that have highlighted that compared to other nations like New Zealand, Britain, Germany, we pay far more through the PBS. Taxpayers pay far more through the PBS. Multiples of the same drugs in other jurisdictions. They've suggested that Western Australia adopt the New-- Australia adopt the New Zealand model, PHARMAC, whereby they have a single agency that has a fixed budget that goes and negotiates with the drug companies for the best price deal that they can get. They've demonstrated that prices in New Zealand for the most commonly bought drugs are by their scheme is a sixth the price in Australia. I guess my question is why wouldn't we replicate, as the Grattan Institute suggested, that model and get-- pay less for our pharmaceuticals. >> Minister Sussan Ley: Thanks for the question. I didn't get where you're from. If that's alright, may I ask? >> Sorry, I'm from the Health Consumers' Council, Western Australia. >> Minister Sussan Ley: Good. Well, I'm very pleased to meet the consumers here at this forum. I don't agree with all of the conclusions that the Grattan Institute has made in that all of their reports, but they're a sound organisation and I read their findings with interest. Yes, it is true that PHARMAC, the New Zealand system, is in many cases less expensive than Australia, but if you're a consumer, if you're a patient in New Zealand with MS, the latest treatment is a drug called Lemtrada, which you probably are prescribed in a third-line treatment sense. The New Zealand system doesn't put that drug on the PBS, so patients come to Australia. If you have advanced Parkinson's disease and you need deep brain stimulation in New Zealand, the New Zealand PBS will not support you, so you come to Australia. If you need some of the treatments that solve severe and chronic pain and that, again, involves brain stimulation, you come to Australia. I'm very proud of our system because, yes, it's generous and, yes, in probably many respects it is more expensive, but it gives people here access to treatments that they wouldn't receive elsewhere in the world. My department does actually, as I'm sure you know, undergo a, you know, a very vigorous series of agreements with the manufacturers of medicine as opposed to the listing announcements and those negotiations, you know, naturally are in confidence and I'm not across the detail of them, nor should I be. But, what I do know is that the asking price for medicines and the final listing price are often substantially different and that we are able to make the necessary changes to the prices of drugs depending on new listings that come on the market and, you know, competitors that move in and also the move from innovator to generic. So, yes, it's terrific to keep the focus on affordability, but I'm very defensive of our system. Thank you. >> You talked about the federal state relations aspect and, of course, in health-- I mean, as you know, the previous government that was talked about the federal government taking over the hospital system unless the states could get their act together and these things could work. This is often the complaint about the complexity of a system. I mean I know the premiers are meeting in a few weeks' time with the prime minister, but where does the dividing line work? Is it a system where you have one provider or one purchaser the system would suddenly become a lot cheaper or more efficient or are we stuck with what we got? >> Minister Sussan Ley: Well, I think, Johnathan, we all agree that the system is clumsy and inefficient. And one of the reasons for that is the two accounting streams of federal and state government which mean that, naturally, each level of government acts to, you know, keep the costs as low as possible in their own sphere of influence at the expense of the other level of government where the overall cost per patient continues to increase. There's a real opportunity as we lead into the next Commonwealth state health agreement, the current one expands in-- expires in 2017-18-- to do something different and I know that the prime minister is very interested in real reform in this area, as am I. There's a lot of argy-bargy, politically, between state and federal governments. There always will be and health and education are always the number one and two areas of that sort of debate, but what I say to state health ministers when we sit around a table-- and we're doing that quite soon in August. What I say is, look, let's have the political bonfire because that's what we do, but when we sit down here, let's work on options that make a difference and if we can between us determine how we might fund this ever-growing group of patients with chronic and complex conditions in a way that keeps them out of the hospital, that avoids the $7 billion cost to the Australian economy in avoidable hospital admissions. You state governments are looking after your budgets, we're looking after our budget, but most importantly the patient is better off. So, I'm quite excited by those opportunities and I know that my state health's ministers, wherever they are in Australia, really interested in having that constructive conversation. >> Sue White from Curtin. I was interested in your comment about prevention, having a public health background, I'm thrilled to hear you say that and yet we often say that we talk about prevention, primary health, and yet we are looking at an increased incidence and prevalence of those chronic diseases that you talked about and you also talked about the fee-for-service model not really supporting prevention and I totally agree with you. You did say that there was a review, but what do you think? What are your thoughts about how do we change a model that is not set up to prevent chronic disease easily? >> Minister Sussan Ley: Thank you, Sue, for the question. And we are very challenged by how we can use our public health systems to stop people getting sick in the first place or to catch them before they come to sick or, very importantly, with, you know, the unavoidable increase in chronic disease to manage that chronic disease as best we possibly can. You refer to the Primary Care Advisory Group, that's led by Dr. Stephen Hambleton and it has a group of primary care providers including allied health and pharmacy and psychology, GPs, et cetera sitting around the table. And, importantly, like my MBS review, this is not the department of health. This is not the minister. This is not politicians. This is led by clinicians, so if they don't like it, they'll walk away from it. That's my honesty system and what I want them to come back to me with is recommendations for a model that does better than the current one. And if you look at a starting place, if you look at the revenue streams that come into general practice, obviously Medicare, practice incentive payments, chronic disease management items, team care plans, funding for, for example, a mental health nurse and so on. How would you better configure all of that to look after a group of let's say enrolled patients who see their usual doctor-- not their usual doctor, their usual medical practice and are coordinated in a follow-up sense? And I think that we can do a lot better than we're doing now, because, as you know, somebody goes to their doctor, they get diagnosed with, you know, they have the barrage of tests. Your blood sugar's high. You've got early or recent onset type two diabetes. They don't feel any different. They go home. They do what they've always done. They make no changes to their diet and lifestyle. As health professionals, you all know what future awaits them in about ten years and after that they'll probably be considerably unwell and possibly even advanced to having to take insulin. So, nobody, necessarily, in modern medical practices calls them up and says come back, see this person, this person, this person-- you don't have to see the GP and works with them to manage those changes that they need to make. So, I'm very focussed on that. Preventative health is just so important. I don't know if any of you recall the front page of The Australian a couple of weeks ago. I know the individual who was on the front page, John Ross, their higher education writer because with my previous hat on I met him many times. About the same age as me, very fit, lived in-- lives in Coogee. Gone down for a swim and a run, came back, was driving his car around the roundabout, very slowly thankfully, had a heart attack. You know, that buildup of soft plaque in the artery. No one can detect it, no one can feel it. The car rolled on its side. Walking past was a pregnant woman, a nurse, and an older gentleman, I think, and it was a lovely picture because they were all lined up there and the headline was, you know, saved by the kindness of passing strangers and they saved his life. But, he nearly didn't survive. So, my question to, you know-- my rhetorical question I suppose to the health system is what can we do to have that investigation. Because, as you know, at the moment, if you go in perfectly healthy, Medicare doesn't pay for the diagnostic process by which, you know, you can be investigated. Doctors are quite able to get around it, so-- which is a good thing, I think, if you've got a family history of heart disease. But, still, you know, what could we do and one of the things I'm trying to do is do more and more screening. We've upped breast cancer screening and bowel cancer screening. Changes to Pap smear mean less gynaecological cancers, I hope, and so on. So, all of your ideas are very welcome. >> Yes. Thanks very much Minister for coming over here and addressing us. At the moment from birth through our whole lives, we're assisted by the health department, medical profession, and so forth. Do you feel that when people are coming to the end of their life, there should be more emphasis put on assisting people to pass out of this world? >> Minister Sussan Ley: Yes, I do. My mother was a palliative care nurse, so I grew up in a home where death and dying was talked about quite normally, which is a, you know, a young person I thought was quite creepy, but looking back I've realised it was eminently sensible. And, as you know, if you talk to anyone who works now with people in aged care, palliative care, they say it's a privilege to be with a patient as they die. We are putting a lot of effort into advanced care directives. It sounds a little bit evil in war, I know, but that's apparently the name. And I think that if we can find a way for, within this management of, you know, patients, doctors to say alright, we need to talk about what you want to happen if you're in a situation where you can't answer these questions yourself what you want your family to do because, as you know, the decisions haven't been made, the discussion hasn't been had, people find themselves in ICU. You know, family members are under enormous stress and it's the same argument for organ donation as well. It's not the time to be having the discussion. It needs to have happened earlier and who better to lead it than your doctor and your medical practice. So, yes. It's a cost to the health system, of course, and we can't ignore that, but I also would like to think that for the individuals, they reach a better place spiritually and in terms of themselves than they often do at the moment in what is a very frightening end to life. >> Thank you, Minister. Elizabeth Moore from South Metro Mental Health. I've got a couple of questions. The first one is around the personal eHealth record. I'm glad to know that you've changed it to an opt-out record, but, in terms of the health record now, people are only put on what they want to put on. Is that going to be different under the myHealth record? >> Minister Sussan Ley: We're-- Elizabeth, we are moving to opt-out. In the process, we're going to do two significant large scale trials in two different states and resolve a lot of issues that I don't think have completely been resolved so far. It is control by the person, but I would expect that the record can be-- I mean at the moment you can suppress what you don't want to be seen and we need that there for, you know, we don't want people to feel that control and information of their own health is being taken away from them and provided to who knows where, but that suppression doesn't indicate-- that doesn't make the record disappear in that particular instance. I mean if we're talking about mental health, you can understand that someone doesn't necessarily want everyone to know their mental health history. So, you know, we need those caveats in there and how we achieve that while not detracting from the ability for the health record to inform the medical profession is important. And, as I said, with these two trials, quite possibly one here in WA, I think we'll find some answers to how we get that right. At the moment, you and allied health professional can't add to the health record. Most of the allied health professionals I meet don't agree with that and a lot of the GPs don't agree with it either. So, I think that's a step that we need to take. How we include, you know, without just having sort of masses and masses of guff that isn't particularly meaningful, how we include, you know, allied health information in that record. >> It's nice to know that there'll be another national mental health plan. What's the time frame on that and is there going to be an evaluation of the fourth national mental health plan? >> Minister Sussan Ley: Well, I've appointed an expert reference group led by Kate Carnell, who many of you will know. Kate has some strong credibility in this sector because of her work with beyondblue and her own personal story and she said to me, look, I'll do this for you, but I don't want it to turn into another bureaucratic exercise. I don't want it to produce a plan that goes nowhere and I don't want it to take too long. And I said tick all those boxes, Kate. Please lead this work with some key people who understand the dysfunction and disorganisation in the mental health system now. By the end of this year, October, I hope, I will have, you know, the report which will enable me to talk to state governments. We've got to work with state governments because so much of the care is provided in the acute sector and in the community sector. And anyone who's experienced the mental health system will know as I do after reading the report that it isn't really about money. Important, though, money is. You can always add more money. It's very much about just the inability for the sectors-- the sections to communicate with each other. So, you know, somebody presents, they've got to have paperwork done in a-- by a caseworker in order to go for example into a detox unit, in order to go into a rehab unit. Then they step outside into a mental health field if, in fact, the alcohol and drugs provider says you need mental health support. So, suddenly they disappear into another silo, then they have to wait for an appointment and, you know, the-- you know, the inability of all this to come together is enormously frustrating. So, yeah, we have to get that right and I'm really looking forward to it being done in a cohesive sense. >> Sara Carroll from the faculty of health sciences at Curtin. Given the need to improve the efficiency in and cost effectiveness of our health system, can you talk to us about your views on expansion of referral rights and prescribing rights to suitably qualified nonmedical health practitioners? Allied health practitioners, for example. >> Minister Sussan Ley: Improvements to scope of practice are not really for the Commonwealth to determine and I know that there are quite a few strong discussions going on between the various professions about who is able to do what. To the extent that there is regulation, it's pretty much state government. So, I, you know, I'm happy to talk to you about it, but we don't actually exert much influence from Commonwealth level on those things. But, we do hear from a lot of different groups about their views on being able to, for example, prescribe medications when their profession can do that in another country but not here. So, interested to talk further. >> You also have the Ministry for Sport as part of your profile, yes? Can you comment on the interplay between your sport and health portfolios and also specifically about the effects of drugs and alcohol in sport and its effect on health generally. Thank you. >> Minister Sussan Ley: Thank you. It's great to get a question on sport and the sports portfolio now lives with health. It's got a very powerful big brother in health because sport didn't use to sit at the Cabinet table, it used to sit with the arts portfolio, outside Cabinet. And when our friends in finance and treasury wanted money, they often tackled those areas. And, by the way, sport and arts never got on very well together. I don't know why. So, I'm delighted that sport sits where it needs to in health and we have a very, very strong participation agenda as well as the funding that we give our elite athletes through the AIS and particularly the athletes themselves in the lead up to Rio. Fifth of August, one year to go. But, it's not all about becoming an elite sports person and that's not the message we would ever want to give to children. We do know that one out of four children is obese or overweight and we do know that 77% of children don't really do any exercise at all, but sit on the couch. So, our Sporting Schools initiative, you can all look at it at, which I'm actually launching in Sydney on Monday is $100 million over two and a half years with grants to either primary schools, to sporting clubs, or to coaches to get this actually happening and we know that if you learn a sport when you're young, even if it falls away in your later adolescent years, you can always come back to it and it's important for your social and emotional development. In terms of drugs in sport, the integrity in sport agenda from the federal government is-- I'm not saying it's not about alcohol and illicit drugs, but it's very much about doping in sport and integrity in sport and having clean athletes competing in a clean, professional environment. So, yeah, we commit funding to ASADA, which carries out the work that we know needs to happen as we are linked to an international code on anti-doping. In fact, Australia was a founding member of WADA, the World Anti-doping Association, and we take that work very seriously. And, you know, we get a lot of flak for it because people generally don't like to think that athletes do the wrong thing and sometimes they don't, but there is a level of performance enhancing drug that is actually not allowed in participating in professional sports these days. I've been personally very disappointed to read of the examples of sporting individuals and teams involved in cocaine use and excessive alcohol binges and so on. While those are a matter, generally, for law enforcement, the more we can do to encourage those sports people to remember that they're all models to so many young Australians, the better we will be and I think that the-- when those issues hit the media, the shame and distress that the individual-- individuals and teams experience, which I know about, is-- I can tell you a massive disincentive. >> John Mamo, faculty of health sciences, Curtin University. Underpinning preventative and primary healthcare is a robust research community and Australia, of course, boasts proudly in that domain. The human papilloma virus and Helicobacter pylori are two great examples, but presently the NHMRC, which is our core funding body for health and medical research is faced with extraordinary pressures with the number of high quality applications that are coming through and it's anticipated that we might see a success rate as low as-- well, single digit-- single digit figures this year. Could you provide some commentary on how you might see health and medical research continually being supported in a very complex and competitive environment? >> Minister Sussan Ley: Well, thank you, John. And that low success rate that you speak about shouldn't obscure the fact that the annual funding through NHMRC is close to $800 million. It was actually under Tony Abbott when he was health minister that we saw a ramping up, a significant ramping up on expenditure on-- government expenditure on medical research and while the budget situation between now and then hasn't allowed us to continue that increase, it's still relatively high in spite of the fact that the previous government tried to take quite a bit of money out of medical research. It's actually been put to me by the organisations that the fact that they put in so many applications works against them and comes up with that low success rate and maybe they should be only able to put in fewer applications and yeah I think that's an interesting way of looking at it, but there's no doubt the space is very highly contested. We're incredibly committed to medical research. Our Medical Research Future Fund, which I hope will see the light of day later this year, unfortunately because the labour party sent it off to a senate enquiry and moved substantial amendments to it, in fact, didn't support what we put forward in the lower house, has slowed up the development of this very important organisation. And, you know, I see NHMRC as sponsoring curiosity-driven ground op research and I see the MRFF, our Medical Research Future Fund, with an ability to take a more strategic focus and look at things differently. I don't think every dollar of medical research spending should go through NHMRC. That was the slight disagreement that I had with the opposition who seemed to think that everything should just be moved over there. The reality is that the MRFF, once established, will take its strategic direction from the chief scientist and that's a process we already have in place with much more research other than just medical across the board. And, you know, I think that's a good thing. I hope that those interested in this, including perhaps your group, has put a submission into the senate enquiry. I'm, you know, I'm I little bit anxious that that senate enquiry which is happening very soon, the hearings will be happening soon, will come up with an unusual conclusion that means, you know, for some reason, the MRFF doesn't actually get up when we need it to. But, anyway, I'm an optimist and I've very hopeful that it will. I should just add that the-- one of the things I want to see the MRFF do and we all know we need is the translation and commercialisation of the projects that come through the research. So, it would also have much more of a focus than the-- than most of the NHMRC projects. >> Can you talk about obesity and the issues with young people? So, what's the latest state-of-play if you like, with advertising of fast foods, junk foods, and pricing also of soft drinks, et cetera? Is there any movement there? >> Minister Sussan Ley: I wouldn't attend an event where someone doesn't raise the need for something like a fast food tax, a sugar tax, and so on and I understand exactly where they're coming from. As liberals, we don't believe in an approach that's over-regulatory and I support that philosophical view, but more importantly, I actually don't think these things would work very well. I think it's quite simplistic to say if you don't see the advertising or if the price goes up, a certain behaviour won't happen. I think that very much these products are answering a demand in the community and by not advertising them or by making them more expensive, I don't know how effectively you reduce the demand. I do know from my work in my previous portfolio as minister for childcare that so much is determined about a person's proclivities, intentions, behaviour in the early years, that the more we can do in the naught to four, the Jesuits used to say give me a child until their seven, but I actually think naught to four. The more we can do in those years, the more we can set future adults up for making the right choices and building the right levels of resilience and it's just so very, very difficult to intervene with anyone in those later years. So, a challenge, I agree. I actually met an obesity specialist recently who said by the time-- some leading research, by the time a child can reach the fridge door, it's actually almost too late. The settings have been formed in utero and in that first year of life and obviously come from the mother that make that most-- you know, obesity a most likely future for them. So, it really does give us a very strong message about it's not very easy to change behaviour. >> Minister, hi. Thanks. Thanks for taking questions. Marcus Tansmen [assumed spelling], I'm a GP and I'm one of the directors at the newly established West Australian Primary Health Alliance who are responsible for the Primary Health Networks here in WA. In your address, you actually alluded to the fact that, you know, the Primary Health Networks have evolved from the Medicare Locals and, previous to them, the GP Networks and Divisions of General Practice. As much as you can say, you know, I think you understand that it takes a long time for some of these organisations to take hold and establish and develop their reputation and credibility that requires them to do their jobs, particularly in coordinating primary care, as fragmented as it is, and establishing a relationship with groups like state health and so on. I'm keen to understand whether there's some sort of bipartisan arrangement with, you know, the opposition around the continued support for these sorts of organisations to allow them to, you know, optimise their-- the value that has been invested in them and whether you've got any views on that. >> Minister Sussan Ley: I think, Marcus, you're expressing the frustration of, you know, change of government and then a whole lot of things happen and what does it really mean. I understand that frustration and the changes that we made from Medicare Locals to Primary Health Networks are certainly substantial ones. The main one being that we found looking at the Medicare Locals that 40% of their money was spent on administration and that's really way too high. I suppose my general principle about the health dollar is the closer it is to the patient, the better; the more effective it will be. And, the key difference, Marcus, of course you know this well and I must say that the Primary Health Alliance has got off to a great start here in WA. I look forward to good things. The key difference was that the Medicare Locals provided services under their own, you know, their own brand. So, I don't want to brand and I don't want Primary Health Networks to be providing the services, I want them to use the existing professionals, whether it be general practice, allied health, or the hospital, in the area that they're responsible for to facilitate, to collaborate, and to, you know, give effect to actions that improve peoples' health. This is not about a long, detailed process, so a bit of tension with my bureaucrats because I said, look, I don't want the contract to have a lot of process in it. I want it to say these are the outcomes, these will demonstrate improvements in health. I will be able to say to tax payers, you know, governments have no money. I will be able to say to my stakeholders, you know, my key investors who are the taxpayers of Australia, your almost $900 million over three years is going to improve the health of populations and this is how it's being done. So, back to your question, the-- if there is a change of government, what I suspect they might do is not necessarily dismantle the network, but say we have a different set of priorities. I mean I think they should keep the same priorities, but those priorities may change. They will be about preventive health, about avoidable hospital admissions, about keeping older Australian's healthier and happier in their homes, aged care, and the provision of primary care in aged care is an area that I'm quite concerned about. I've also given them a key target of intervening early with child and adolescent mental health and preventative health in terms of, you know, immunizations and screening. So, I don't think any-- I mean they're pretty bipartisan targets, but if, for example, they wanted to take a particular approach and, you know, the network is effectively there and I think that's-- I think that's-- that makes sense because the transition has been expensive, I acknowledge that, but it's been a necessary one. >> Thank you, Minister. Margo Brewer from Curtin University. I noted when you started talking to us today you started with the rural workforce, which we know is a massive issue, and I guess I wanted to address the future rural workforce which is our students. And one of the issues that we have-- well, one of the things we know is students if they have a placement in their final year are more likely to seek employment in a rural environment, but we have no sustained funding source to support students' cost of travel and accommodation into rural settings, but we would love to-- and the students would love to go into rural settings. We have had some funding from the federal government for the clinical training fund, but, for example, this year, out of the $1.5 million we got at Curtain University, there was a $25,000 allowance for all of our students to support them going into real remote or indigenous or aged care facilities and it's just nowhere near what we need. So, I'm really interested to know if the Commonwealth government in looking at the rural workforce is considering students and support for their travel accommodation so that we can provide them with quality rural placements that will assist with the future workforce. Thank you. >> Minister Sussan Ley: Thank you, Margo, and I know that you're pointing to the challenges of distance and training and support for students. The challenges we face in government are that we are running deficits not budget surpluses. In spite of that, I know I've recently signed off I think about $480 million to the rural clinical schools and the university departments of rural health indexed over the next three years. So, I've been very pleased to be able to do that. There is a multitude of funding streams and supports for rural and regional training and I am looking at ways that we can streamline more effectively the governments spend. I can't, unfortunately, increase it, but it is a very significant investment. Talking to doctors yesterday, more-- I've become quite interested in finding ways where we work with the state government about the intern year, which, as you know, is provided for, generally, by the state, but which the Commonwealth can support and also working with the colleges so that we get the, perhaps, GP registrars or specialist training positions in some of our key regional hospitals. With the infrastructure we've got there in the rural clinical schools, I think we could support a more diverse and sustainable model for students. The students I spoke to yesterday said what they wanted more than anything, and cost wasn't really what they raised, was the ability, for example, to spend the intern year and then to have something to follow onto. So, to make that big change, you know, there's quite a bit happening as you are in your final years of study and then those first couple of years, then there's a gap and then you're live might have gone in a different direction and you're back in the city. So, how do we keep you there in those middle junior years, if I can put it like that, and I'm looking at some constructive ideas where we need, you know, we need the training support, so we need the registrars and the specialists to commit to this as well and I hope we can do this, particularly in light of the new Curtain Medical School. >> Good morning, Minister. Robyn Lawrence, South Metro Area Health Service. My question actually relates to the primary healthcare networks and the pharmacy packages that you mentioned, so $900 million over three years for the primary healthcare networks and the 1.2, roughly for pharmacy and I'm just wondering if we're advocating for interdisciplinary primary care, why we've got those two separate packages and why they haven't been combined as one so that the pharmacists were more integrally linked with the primary healthcare networks along with the other allied health disciplines? >> Well, I don't want you to misunderstand. The $900 million we're giving to Primary Health Networks is actually their operational funding to support the work that they do and that includes a range of different activities. The money under the pharmacy agreement is for pharmacy to come back to government with innovative ideas about how they might partner with the primary care providers in their area. So, you know, I didn't propose to give that money to the Primary Health Networks, but there's no reason why those programmes couldn't link with existing work or couldn't include participants within the Primary Health Networks, but they don't need to. So, the last thing we want to be doing here is saying, well, this is what it looks like, now go away and do it. I look forward to pharmacy partnering with, for example, aged care, perhaps the Aboriginal Control Community Health Organisations, and, as I said, with GPs at the centre and saying for our community, this is how we see a gap. Medicine management, somebody leaving hospital, somebody from a non-English speaking background, you know, needing an extra support and so on and this is what we want to do with it. So, look, I'm pleased that there's significant funding in this space. The key thing about the pharmacy funding is it's going to go through MSAC, Medical Services Advisory Committee, which will ticket off as being evidence-based. So, too often we've seen programmes where this looks like a good thing, out goes the money and the programme ends. Nothing really changes. Although, people still want, you know, the programme to continue, I'm not suggesting that. This is about embedding the primary care actions of pharmacy in an on-going model that gets, as I said, approval through MSAC and therefore sort of permanency, which will be a good thing. >> With the prevention side, often health gets overcome by the savagery of dealing with chronic disease and everything that goes with that. Certainly, in the sport area, there's such a profile on the high level sport, the top end of sport. Where, perhaps in the prevention area, which becomes sometimes a confused manuscript because so many people are keen to pursue healthy lifestyles and promote those, where do you think perhaps the best spends are in, you know, health and sport when we're looking to have a framework and when people are seeking advice to ensure that the spends in those portfolios and others is a good pathway that people can actually pursue and get our young people and others to do that because there are so many well-meaning areas, but, as I said, sometimes in health it gets overwhelmed by, you know, those other issues and sport often gets a focus for all the reasons we know when there are other great opportunities. >> Minister Sussan Ley: Well, thanks, Ron, and we certainly are not overlooking the importance of spending our Commonwealth investment on participation that is unrelated to elite sports, so the Sporting Schools programme that I mentioned, which could, in fact, be in every single primary school and some high schools, is a real investment by us. It's $100 million over two and a half years and it means any community club or school can get involved. So, I think the key here is to support our community sports facilities and I don't necessarily mean infrastructure, even though I know every club would like improved infrastructure and from time to time both state and federal governments provide those programmes and that funding, but by bringing in the club, we bring in the community. And rather than government having an endless stream of money to support these things, the importance is to build the capability in those communities through programmes like Sporting Schools because it's not just inside the school gate so that the person links with that and understands that it's there for them over a lifetime. But, it's not, you know, it's not easy. I'm-- I don't-- you know, I don't link, by the way, activity with diet. I think they're two separate things. I think educating people about activity is one thing and education people about diet is a completely different thing and I think that is vital as well and that needs to happen in early childhood for all the reasons that I mentioned earlier. [ Music ]



Under Section 55(ix) of the Australian Constitution, the Commonwealth Parliament had the power to "make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to Quarantine." This was the only area of public health in which the Commonwealth had authority at the time of Federation. The federal parliament did not use this power until the proclamation of the Quarantine Act 1908,[4] on 30 March 1908. The control of the administration of quarantine was under the administration of the Minister for Trade and Customs from 1908 until 1921. This Minister's responsibilities in health matters increased as the Australian Government took a greater role in the provision of public health services during the early 20th century, in particular after the First World War.

A separate Department of Health was established on 10 March 1921, and the position of Minister for Health was then formally created in the fifth Hughes Ministry. The role of the Department of Health has continued to expand and further federal responsibility for health was authorised by the passage, at referendum, of a constitutional amendment in 1946. From 1987 until the establishment of the current department in 2013, the department controlled by the minister had various different names – Department of Community Services and Health (1987–1991), Department of Health, Housing and Community Services (1991–1993), Department of Health, Housing, Local Government and Community Services (1993), Department of Human Services and Health (1993–1996), Department of Health and Family Services (1996–1998), Department of Health and Aged Care (1998–2001), and Department of Health and Ageing (2001–2013).

Section 51 (xxiiiA) of the Constitution now states the Commonwealth (federal) Parliament has the power to

make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth [of Australia] with respect to the provision of maternity allowances, widows' pensions, child endowment, unemployment, pharmaceutical, sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services (but not so as to authorise any form of civil conscription), benefits to students and family allowances.

As a result of this amendment the federal government now has a key role in financing and providing medical services through entities such as Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

From 1972 to 1975 under Doug Everingham, the Ministry was named the "Ministry of Helth [sic]" in some informal contexts due to Everingham's support of Spelling Reform.[5][6][7]

List of health ministers

The following individuals have been appointed as Minister for Health, or any of its precedent titles:[8]

Order Minister Party Prime Minister Title Term start Term end Term in office
1 Walter Massy-Greene Nationalist Hughes Minister for Health 10 March 1921 (1921-03-10) 5 February 1923 (1923-02-05) 1 year, 332 days
2 Austin Chapman Bruce 9 February 1923 (1923-02-09) 26 May 1924 (1924-05-26) 1 year, 107 days
3 Littleton Groom 26 May 1924 (1924-05-26) 13 June 1924 (1924-06-13) 18 days
4 Herbert Pratten 13 June 1924 (1924-06-13) 16 January 1925 (1925-01-16) 217 days
5 Sir Neville Howse 16 January 1925 (1925-01-16) 2 April 1927 (1927-04-02) 2 years, 76 days
6 Stanley Bruce 2 April 1927 (1927-04-02) 24 February 1928 (1928-02-24) 328 days
(5) Sir Neville Howse 24 February 1928 (1928-02-24) 22 October 1929 (1929-10-22) 1 year, 240 days
7 Frank Anstey Labor Scullin 22 October 1929 (1929-10-22) 3 March 1931 (1931-03-03) 1 year, 132 days
8 John McNeill 3 March 1931 (1931-03-03) 6 January 1932 (1932-01-06) 309 days
9 Charles Marr United Australia Lyons 6 January 1932 (1932-01-06) 12 October 1934 (1934-10-12) 2 years, 279 days
10 Billy Hughes 12 October 1934 (1934-10-12) 6 November 1935 (1935-11-06) 1 year, 25 days
11 Joseph Lyons 6 November 1935 (1935-11-06) 26 February 1936 (1936-02-26) 112 days
(10) Billy Hughes 26 February 1936 (1936-02-26) 29 November 1937 (1937-11-29) 1 year, 276 days
12 Sir Earle Page Country 29 November 1937 (1937-11-29) 7 November 1938 (1938-11-07) 343 days
13 Harry Foll United Australia 7 November 1938 (1938-11-07) 7 April 1939 (1939-04-07) 170 days
Page 7 April 1939 (1939-04-07) 26 April 1939 (1939-04-26)
14 Sir Frederick Stewart Menzies 26 April 1939 (1939-04-26) 14 March 1940 (1940-03-14) 323 days
15 Harold Thorby Country 14 March 1940 (1940-03-14) 28 October 1940 (1940-10-28) 228 days
(14) Sir Frederick Stewart United Australia 28 October 1940 (1940-10-28) 29 August 1941 (1941-08-29) 344 days
Fadden 29 August 1941 (1941-08-29) 7 October 1941 (1941-10-07)
16 Jack Holloway Labor Curtin 7 October 1941 (1941-10-07) 21 September 1943 (1943-09-21) 1 year, 349 days
17 James Fraser 21 September 1943 (1943-09-21) 6 July 1945 (1945-07-06) 1 year, 288 days
Forde 6 July 1945 (1945-07-06) 13 July 1945 (1945-07-13) 7 days
Chifley 13 July 1945 (1945-07-13) 18 June 1946 (1946-06-18) 340 days
18 Nick McKenna 18 June 1946 (1946-06-18) 19 December 1949 (1949-12-19) 3 years, 184 days
(12) Sir Earle Page Country Menzies 19 December 1949 (1949-12-19) 11 January 1956 (1956-01-11) 6 years, 23 days
19 Donald Cameron Liberal 11 January 1956 (1956-01-11) 22 December 1961 (1961-12-22) 5 years, 345 days
20 Harrie Wade Country 22 December 1961 (1961-12-22) 18 November 1964 (1964-11-18) 2 years, 332 days
21 Reginald Swartz Liberal 21 November 1964 (1964-11-21) 26 January 1966 (1966-01-26) 1 year, 66 days
22 Jim Forbes Holt 26 January 1966 (1966-01-26) 19 December 1967 (1967-12-19) 5 years, 55 days
McEwen 19 December 1967 (1967-12-19) 10 January 1968 (1968-01-10)
Gorton 10 January 1968 (1968-01-10) 10 March 1971 (1971-03-10)
McMahon 10 March 1971 (1971-03-10) 22 March 1971 (1971-03-22)
23 Ivor Greenwood 22 March 1971 (1971-03-22) 2 August 1971 (1971-08-02) 133 days
24 Sir Ken Anderson 2 August 1971 (1971-08-02) 5 December 1972 (1972-12-05) 1 year, 125 days
25 Lance Barnard1 Labor Whitlam 5 December 1972 (1972-12-05) 19 December 1972 (1972-12-19) 14 days
26 Doug Everingham Minister for Health2 19 December 1972 (1972-12-19) 11 November 1975 (1975-11-11) 2 years, 327 days
27 Don Chipp Liberal Fraser Minister for Health 11 November 1975 (1975-11-11) 22 December 1975 (1975-12-22) 41 days
28 Ralph Hunt National Country 22 December 1975 (1975-12-22) 8 December 1979 (1979-12-08) 3 years, 351 days
29 Michael MacKellar Liberal 8 December 1979 (1979-12-08) 20 April 1982 (1982-04-20) 2 years, 133 days
30 Peter Baume 20 April 1982 (1982-04-20) 7 May 1982 (1982-05-07) 17 days
31 Jim Carlton 7 May 1982 (1982-05-07) 11 March 1983 (1983-03-11) 308 days
32 Neal Blewett Labor Hawke 11 March 1983 (1983-03-11) 24 July 1987 (1987-07-24) 7 years, 24 days
Minister for Community Services and Health 24 July 1987 (1987-07-24) 4 April 1990 (1990-04-04)
33 Brian Howe 4 April 1990 (1990-04-04) 7 June 1991 (1991-06-07) 2 years, 354 days
Keating Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services 7 June 1991 (1991-06-07) 24 March 1993 (1993-03-24)
34 Graham Richardson Minister for Health 24 March 1993 (1993-03-24) 25 March 1994 (1994-03-25) 1 year, 1 day
35 Carmen Lawrence Minister for Human Services and Health 25 March 1994 (1994-03-25) 11 March 1996 (1996-03-11) 1 year, 352 days
36 Michael Wooldridge Liberal Howard Minister for Health and Family Services 11 March 1996 (1996-03-11) 21 October 1998 (1998-10-21) 5 years, 260 days
Minister for Health and Aged Care 21 October 1998 (1998-10-21) 26 November 2001 (2001-11-26)
37 Kay Patterson Minister for Health and Ageing 26 November 2001 (2001-11-26) 7 October 2003 (2003-10-07) 1 year, 315 days
38 Tony Abbott 7 October 2003 (2003-10-07) 3 December 2007 (2007-12-03) 4 years, 57 days
39 Nicola Roxon Labor Rudd 3 December 2007 (2007-12-03) 24 June 2010 (2010-06-24) 4 years, 8 days
Gillard 24 June 2010 (2010-06-24) 11 December 2011 (2011-12-11)
40 Tanya Plibersek Minister for Health 11 December 2011 (2011-12-11) 1 July 2013 (2013-07-01) 1 year, 281 days
Rudd Minister for Health and Medical Research 1 July 2013 (2013-07-01) 18 September 2013 (2013-09-18)
41 Peter Dutton   Liberal National Abbott Minister for Health 18 September 2013 (2013-09-18) 23 December 2014 (2014-12-23) 1 year, 96 days
42 Sussan Ley Liberal 23 December 2014 (2014-12-23) 15 September 2015 (2015-09-15) 2 years, 21 days
Turnbull 15 September 2015 (2015-09-15) 19 July 2016 (2016-07-19)
Minister for Health and Ageing 19 July 2016 (2016-07-19) 13 January 2017 (2017-01-13)
(acting) Arthur Sinodinos[9] 13 January 2017 (2017-01-13) 24 January 2017 (2017-01-24) 11 days
43 Greg Hunt Minister for Health 24 January 2017 (2017-01-24) 24 August 2018 (2018-08-24) 2 years, 277 days
Morrison 24 August 2018 (2018-08-24) Incumbent


1 Barnard was part of a two-man ministry that comprised just Gough Whitlam and Barnard for fourteen days until the full ministry was announced.
2 Doug Everingham was a supporter of Spelling Reform and he preferred to spell it "Helth", but this was not the formal spelling of the portfolio's name (see above).

List of ministers for aged care

The following individuals have been appointed as the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, or any of its precedent titles:[8]

Order Minister Party Prime Minister Title Term start Term end Term in office
For earlier appointments, see the List of Australian ministers for aged care
1 Christopher Pyne   Liberal Howard Assistant Minister for Health and Ageing 30 January 2007 (2007-01-30) 21 March 2007 (2007-03-21) 50 days
2 Fiona Nash   Nationals Abbott Assistant Minister for Health 18 September 2013 (2013-09-18) 15 September 2015 (2015-09-15) 2 years, 3 days
Turnbull 15 September 2015 (2015-09-15) 21 September 2015 (2015-09-21)
3 Ken Wyatt Liberal Turnbull Assistant Minister for Health 30 September 2015 (2015-09-30) 18 February 2016 (2016-02-18) 3 years, 241 days
  Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care 18 February 2016 (2016-02-18) 18 January 2017 (2017-01-18)
  Minister for Aged Care 24 January 2017 (2017-01-24) 28 August 2018 (2018-08-28)
  Morrison Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care 28 August 2018 (2018-08-28) 29 May 2019 (2019-05-29)
4 Richard Colbeck   Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians 29 May 2019 (2019-05-29) Incumbent 152 days

Former ministerial posts

List of assistant health ministers

The following individual has been appointed as the Assistant Health Minister, or any of its precedent titles:[8]

Order Minister Party Prime Minister Title Term start Term end Term in office
1 David Gillespie Nationals Turnbull Assistant Minister for Rural Health 19 July 2016 (2016-07-19) 24 January 2017 (2017-01-24) 1 year, 154 days
Assistant Minister for Health 24 January 2017 (2017-01-24) 20 December 2017 (2017-12-20)

List of ministers for indigenous health

The following individuals have been appointed as Minister for Indigenous Health, or any of its precedent titles:[8]

Order Minister Party Prime Minister Title Term start Term end Term in office
1 Warren Snowdon Labor Rudd Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Services Delivery 9 June 2009 24 June 2010 4 years, 101 days
Gillard 24 June 2010 14 September 2010
Minister for Indigenous Health 14 September 2010 27 June 2013
Rudd 27 June 2013 18 September 2013
2 Ken Wyatt   Liberal Turnbull
Minister for Indigenous Health 24 January 2017 (2017-01-24) 29 May 2019 (2019-05-29) 2 years, 125 days

List of ministers for rural health

The following individuals have been appointed as Minister for Rural Health, or any of its precedent titles:[8]

Order Minister Party Prime Minister Title Term start Term end Term in office
1 Fiona Nash   Nationals Turnbull Minister for Rural Health 21 September 2015 (2015-09-21) 19 July 2016 (2016-07-19) 302 days
2 Bridget McKenzie   Nationals Turnbull Minister for Rural Health 20 December 2017 (2017-12-20) 28 August 2018 (2018-08-28) 251 days

See also


  1. ^ a b "New federal ministers officially sworn in". Australia: Sky News. AAP. 24 January 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  2. ^ Karp, Paul (18 January 2017). "Malcolm Turnbull names Greg Hunt to become health and sport minister". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  3. ^ Massola, James (13 February 2016). "Cabinet reshuffle: Malcolm Turnbull announces new frontbench as Mal Brough resigns". The Age. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  4. ^ "Communicable Diseases Surveillance: Surveillance Systems". Department of Health and Ageing. Commonwealth of Australia. 12 February 2009. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  5. ^ Sampson, Geoffrey (1990). Writing Systems. Stanford University Press. p. 197.
  6. ^ Fairbairn, David (12 September 1973). "Second Reading (Budget Debate) Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1973–1974" (PDF). Australian House of Representatives Hansard. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  7. ^ "The Case for SR1 and Nothing Else". Archived from the original on 31 December 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Ministries and Cabinets". 43rd Parliamentary Handbook: Historical information on the Australian Parliament. Parliament of Australia. 2010. Archived from the original on 13 August 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  9. ^ Anderson, Stephanie (18 January 2017). "Greg Hunt announced as Sussan Ley's replacement as Health Minister". ABC News. Retrieved 2 June 2019.

External links

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