Mark Butler confirmed as Minister for Health and Aged Care

Jolyon Attwooll

31/05/2022 6:10:43 PM

The newly appointed minister will be key to shaping the future of primary care under the Albanese Government.

The new Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Bu
The new Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler. (Image: AAP Photos)

Mark Butler has been confirmed as the new Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care.
The decision was announced on Tuesday evening, following a meeting of the Labor caucus of Federal MPs in Canberra. The new ministers will be sworn in on Wednesday 1 June.   
RACGP President Adjunct Professor Karen Price welcomed the incoming minister to the role.
‘The college already has a robust relationship with the Labor health team, and I hope that it only grows stronger in the years ahead as we work together to boost quality general practice patient services,’ Professor Price said. 
‘This is a great opportunity for the new Government to strengthen its commitment to the most cost-effective and frequently accessed part of the nation’s healthcare system – general practice.’
Mr Butler had been the Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care since January 2021, after moving there from a climate spokesperson role.
Professor Price said the college welcomed the Albanese Government’s commitment to invest in primary healthcare.
Prior to the election, the Labor Party set out plans to invest $970 million into primary care, including a total of $750 million over the next three years to strengthen Medicare, and $220 million in practice infrastructure grants.
The decision to place the incoming Health Minister as chair of the ‘Strengthening Medicare Taskforce’, which will shape the way the $750 million funding is spent, is also welcome, Professor Price said.
The $220 million in infrastructure grants are set to be available for practices to upgrade IT systems to support telehealth, upskill staff, and bring in improved ventilation and infection control.
However, the RACGP President also highlighted the acute pressures on primary care due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, bushfires, and a growing wave of flu infections.
‘Practices across Australia are under enormous pressure delivering COVID-19 vaccines and boosters as well as influenza vaccines and routine childhood immunisations, treating patients who have delayed or avoided screenings and consults during the pandemic and helping people with mental health issues,’ she said.
‘All of this at a time in our nation’s history when we have an ageing population and rising rates of chronic disease.
‘So, we have a lot on our plate, and I look forward to working with the new Health Minister to give general practice a much-needed shot in the arm.’
Working together with RACGP Rural, which is chaired by Dr Michael Clements, to address the shortage of pressures rural and remote communities, is another key priority, Professor Price said.
RACGP state and territory faculty chairs have all cited the shortage of GPs and an under-resourced primary care sector as among the two biggest issues facing the new government.
Professor Price also paid tribute to Greg Hunt, who was the Minister for Health and Aged Care under the previous Coalition Government.
‘I wish Greg Hunt all the best and thank him for his service as Health Minister during a turbulent time for our healthcare system,’ she said.
‘He understood the vital role that GPs and general practice teams play and was committed to improving the health of Australia.’
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Department of Health Minister for Health and Aged Care

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Dr David Monash   1/06/2022 8:17:38 AM

I will be watching with interest. When he was the minister for mental health with Ms Roxon he quietly ripped nearly a billion dollars from general practice and psychologists mental health funding while pretending to be increasing the overall funding to Mental Health care. I sincerely hope ha has more respect and interest in supporting general practice this time around.

Dr Greg Saville   1/06/2022 7:05:23 PM

Finally a decent Health Minister. But, I suppose there will the obligatory whinging about his appointment.