May 31st, 2022

Mark Butler confirmed as health minister: what the health sector can expect from a Labor Government

As expected, Mark Butler has been confirmed as the new health minister following Labor’s recent federal election win. He will be supported by Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ged Kearney, Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Rural and Regional Health, Emma McBride and Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy.

Butler takes the health reins with vast parliamentary experience behind him, both in the shadow ministry, where he had been shadow spokesperson for health since last year and in several ministerial roles in the Rudd and Gillard Government’s including Minister for Mental Health and Ageing (2010-2013). He is the author of the book ‘Advance Australia – The Politics of Ageing.’

A former trade unionist and member of the Labor Party’s left faction, Butler is said to have a close working relationship with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese having served as campaign manager for his party leadership bid in 2013.

Labor campaigned heavily on a traditional platform of aged care and Medicare and indicated it will maintain the high levels of health spending seen during the pandemic.

However, in a bid to build trust on the economy, Labor has also signalled it will maintain fiscal discipline with Finance Minister Katy Gallagher warning a period of Budget consolidation and repair is ahead. This may well put pressure on new health spending beyond already baked-in election promises.

Labor’s election platform for health:

General Practice

  • $750 million Strengthening Medicare Fund
  • $220 for rural GP infrastructure grants
  • $140 million to expand rural workforce
  • $135 million for urgent care centres

Public hospitals

  • Expansion of medical centres, including $400 million expansion of Flinders Medical Centre

Health system

  • 30 new dialysis units, $12 million Rheumatic heart disease prevention, $15 million for water supply in remote communities. The funding of 500 new training places.
  • $31 million boost to Medicare for people in regional areas access cheaper telehealth psychiatry.
  • Establishment of a Centre for Disease Control.
  • A further $2.5 billion in addition to Royal Commission response for 24/7 Aged Care nursing presence and mandating 215 minutes care per day
  • $250,000 to develop a National LGBTIQ+ Health Action Plan.
  • $38 million for expansion of newborn screening program.

Medicines and medical technology

  • PBS co-payment to be cut from $42.50 per script, to a maximum of $30.
  • $273.1 million to expand the Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) Initiative from 1 July 2022 for people with Type 1 diabetes.

Full cabinet and outer ministry below. For a discussion on how you should approach political engagement in this new parliament, please contact John Emmerson: [email protected] 

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