Who is Senator Anne Ruston the Coalition’s candidate for health minister?
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has put forward Senator Anne Ruston from South Australia to be the new health minister if the Coalition wins the upcoming federal election. London Agency has analysed how her voting patterns, political career and ideological beliefs could guide her approach to the job.
Work and life of Senator Anne Ruston
Anne Ruston began her career in state politics in South Australia in 1987 under former state MP Peter Arnold. She was appointed to various roles as a policy adviser and then an executive for over a decade in the wine and tourism sector in South Australia with mixed success.
Her experience in the private and public sectors led her to become the vice president of the Liberal party in South Australia in 2011. In 2012 she won the preselection Senate ticket after initial factional brawls within the party.
In her first years in the senate, she rose the ranks quickly, becoming the Whip of the Senate (2014-2016) and was appointed Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources in 2015.
During the leadership spill of 2018, Senator Ruston was appointed as Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific.
Following the Coalition’s 2019 election victory, she was elevated to a Cabinet position for the first time as Minister of Families and Social Services and reappointed as Manager of Government Business in the Senate.
In March 2021, Senator Ruston was appointed Minister for Women’s Safety, a new position under the Morrison ministry.
Voting history and commentary
After the senator’s selection by the Prime Minister on April 16, she was the target of criticism from the Labor Party regarding comments in 2015 when she was an Assistant Minister in the Abbott Government regarding Medicare reforms and abandonment of co-payments “Medicare in its current form is not sustainable into the future without change’s being made,” she said.
The Coalition has changed its approach to healthcare considerably since the Abbott years. Pandemic spending, increases in PBS and MBS funding and other promises in the recent March 2022 budget have exemplified this.
In her current portfolio, the senator’s input was critical to a 1.3b pledge for increased women’s safety in the recent budget and has worked alongside advocacy groups for broadening funding support for financial abuse and for marginalised groups in receiving adequate support services.
Opponents of the senator will criticise her voting patterns against the universal access to abortion services, decrease in private health insurance rebates, not expanding Medicare-funded dental care and the urgent rollout of the COVID vaccine.
What would Senator Anne Ruston’s appointment mean for the health sector?
When reflecting on a politician’s career like Senator Ruston, it is essential to understand the drivers of voting patterns and public comments on specific issues. In parliament, voting on legislation is either a reflection of an individual’s conscience vote or towing the party-line. Often politicians that rise the ranks in politics quickly focus more on aligning with the sentiment of the party over their ideology; their careers depend on it.
Regardless of Senator Ruston’s own political opinions, she has moved up the ranks in the Liberal Party due to her loyalty and collegiate approach with her peers. Although her past comments and voting patterns might be concerning to some in the healthcare space, there is currently neither public nor political will to reduce the high levels of healthcare spending. She will be guided by the will of her party and voters when deciding on the needs of the health sector.
She has worked strongly with many stakeholder groups as the Minister for Women’s safety in the past 12 months, and although there is criticism of her not doing enough on transparency of records and reports, the increased investment of time and resources is indicative of her work ethic.
Reflecting on her appointment, Ruston noted the experience of growing up with a mother who was a nurse as evidence of her personal connection to the portfolio. Alongside her stakeholder skills and loyalty, London Agency hope these are positive signs for things to come working alongside the health sector if the coalition was to be re-elected..
London Agency will be providing more political analysis leading up to the federal election. If you would like to hear more of the services we provide in the public affairs arena, please contact the Director of London Agency, John Emmerson.