The incoming Albanese Cabinet has a mandate for major public health improvements, the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) says.
The PHAA welcomes the appointments of Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler, Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ged Kearney, Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy as Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians and the Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, and Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Rural and Regional Health Emma McBride.
The new Albanese ministry, sworn-in today, is a chance to enact policies and fulfill election promises that will improve the health of everyone across the continent.
These areas are:
- $750m over three years for primary care and a Strengthening Medicare Taskforce
- 50 Medicare urgent care clinics
- An Australian Centre for Disease Control
- Improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
- Implementing the National Preventive Health Strategy
- Establishing a Climate and Health strategy
- Healthy democracy and public policy-making
“We see the incoming government taking action in these areas, as well as having space on a relatively broad canvas to paint what Labor envisions is needed across the health sector,” PHAA CEO, Adjunct Professor Terry Slevin said.
“Four of these areas were included in the Labor Party’s response to our survey of the three major parties during the recent election campaign to learn their policy positions across seven areas of public health.
“Our scorecard ranked Labor as aligning with four of our focus areas: First Nations’ health, an Australian Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, action on health and climate change, and a healthy democracy and public policymaking.
First Nations’ health
“The new government has promised to ‘train 500 additional First Nations Health Workers and invest in life-saving dialysis and rheumatic heart disease treatments to help close the gap in First Nations’ health outcomes’.
“We also note the Albanese Government’s intent to work with Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations and other services, and also enact the Uluru Statement from the Heart. These actions, which PHAA fully supports, will improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples throughout the continent.
“We welcome Labor’s pledge to support the implementation of the National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030, which was launched by the former Morrison Government in December 2021.
Centre for Disease Control and Prevention
“An Albanese Labor Government would also establish an Australian Centre for Disease Control and work to prevent chronic and infectious diseases.
Health and climate change
“In their response, the party also said, ‘Labor will deliver the first National Climate Health Strategy and make Climate Health a National Health Priority’. We are keen to see how this strategy develops and note that the incoming government is intent on cutting emissions, which will mean reduced air pollution and quieter neighbourhoods, among other public health benefits.
Healthy democracy and public policymaking
“As for our stance on a healthy democracy, Labor has promised to ‘establish a powerful, transport and independent National Anti-Corruption Commission’. It also pledged to ‘amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act to require that political donations above $1,000 are disclosed within 7 days.’
And while not in the Health portfolio, a healthy democracy and improved transparency creates an environment where those with the deepest pockets – such as the tobacco, alcohol, and gambling industries – should have less sway on government policy. And that will lead to a healthier Australia.
“All of these areas, and others, have the potential to make healthier the people who live in Australia, while a CDC can play a crucial role in helping our neighbouring countries during future outbreaks.
“We are excited by the potential and wish the new Ministry and incoming new parliament every success.”
“An essential message to send to the new Federal Labor health leadership is that health is not just about funding hospitals,” Adj Prof Slevin added.