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RACGP President thanks outgoing Health Minister for his service


Anastasia Tsirtsakis


2/12/2021 4:10:43 PM

After more than 20 years in Parliament – five in charge of the health portfolio – Greg Hunt has announced his time in politics is ending.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.
After heading the health portfolio for five years, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt is departing politics. (Image: AAP)

Having helped lead Australia through its pandemic response to date, Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt has announced his retirement from politics.
 
Speculation about Minister Hunt’s departure mounted on Wednesday, before it was confirmed by the minister himself on Thursday during the last Parliamentary sitting day of 2021.
 
Responding to the announcement, RACGP President Dr Karen Price thanked the outgoing minister for his efforts, particularly over the past 20 months.
 
‘It’s a great time of change in the sector, and this is another change,’ she told newsGP.
 
‘Minister Hunt has consistently adopted an evidence-based approach throughout the COVID vaccine rollout, and I have personally appreciated that.
 
‘He’s been willing to listen to the science of infectious disease and pandemics, so we’ve been able to manage a really good outcome for Australia.’
 
Dr Price, who has been advocating strongly for general practice since her appointment, said that the college had been able to maintain a ‘direct and honest’ line of communication with Minister Hunt, despite some challenges. 
 
‘We’re an apolitical college, so it’s important that we maintain relationships with politicians,’ she said.
 
‘There are obviously challenges within that, but we have been able to maintain a professional and courteous dialogue, even in disagreement, which has helped the profession.
 
‘RACGP spends a lot of time in Canberra, we have a Canberra office, and we have people going into Parliament House on a daily basis seeing both sides of politics. We understand how busy and important it is to get time with a busy minister and other politicians, and the college has done well in this advocacy.’
 
With Minister Hunt expected to remain in the health portfolio until at least election day, Dr Price said that as concerns mount around the Omicron variant she is looking forward to continuing to work closely with the Minister to ensure the rollout of booster vaccinations goes smoothly.
 
‘We still, as a college, are wanting to ensure that GPs are protected and resourced properly to manage COVID in the community during 2022,’ she added.
 
‘We’ve also still got other issues to work upon together, such as PLT training. We’ve made a significant step forward with GP Synergy, which we’re working through slowly, ensuring that Australian general practice training is going to be in good shape going forward.’
 
Minister Hunt was elected to Parliament in November 2011 to represent the Victorian seat of Flinders. Since his appointment, he has held a number of portfolios from environment, to industry and science.
 
It was in January 2017 that he was appointment health minister and has overseen Australia’s COVID-19 response. He also announced the transition back to profession-led training in person at GP17.
 
‘We wish Minister Hunt well and thank him for his service,’ Dr Price said.
 
‘Regardless of people’s thoughts politically, the COVID pandemic has meant that everybody involved – including Minister Hunt and myself – have worked pretty much 24 hours, seven days a week.
 
‘So I hope that he will get to spend a little bit of time with his family after the next election.’
 
Looking ahead to the impending election, Dr Price said the college is committed to working with Minister Hunt’s successor, as she anticipates it will be a big year for general practice.
 
‘The next year is a pivotal one for general practice and the election, no doubt, will very much be focused on accessible healthcare for every Australian as an outcome and the resources that GPs need to do that,’ she said.
 
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Dr Nadine Elise Perlen   4/12/2021 6:51:34 PM

As a GP on the coal face, especially in the early days of COVID and the vaccination program, I would have appreciated being advised of major changes before hearing the Minister announcing in the media or from my patients calling the practice before we were informed.
Telling patients to call their GP when we were uninformed created a lot of chaos and showed a lack of understanding and collaboration by the government with GP’s.


A.Prof Christopher David Hogan   6/12/2021 11:00:06 PM

Being a Health Minister is a thankless task for regardless of what is offered, no government can ever meet the wants or needs of every person.
In spite of the evidence that shows investing in Primary Care does more than investing in other disciplines, the politicians will not accept it because the voters do not believe it.
The punters always want another wonder drug, another Ivory Tower & more machines that go Ping! Forgetting that if health is promoted, illnesses prevented & other illnesses detected & treated early, such extravagance is needed much less frequently.
So Greg Hunt did the best he could in very difficult circumstances. With very few exceptions being Health Minister is often the graveyard of political ambition.