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Mr Mark Butler named new health minister

New Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has unveiled his full ministry, including Mr Mark Butler who has taken responsibility for the health and aged care portfolio.

Butler, a Federal MP who has represented the western suburbs of Adelaide since 2007, will also serve as Deputy Leader of the House after Labor secured 77 seats on 31 May, allowing it to govern with a majority in the 47th parliament.

Mark Butler.

Other health-related appointments include:

  • Ms Ged Kearney, Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care.
  • Ms Emma McBride, Assistant Minister for Mental Health, Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health.
  • Senator Ms Malarndirri McCarthy, Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians and Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health.
  • Ms Linda Burney Minister for Indigenous Australians.

Butler brings a wealth of experience to the health and aged care portfolio, replacing now-retired Liberal MP Mr Greg Hunt who led the health ministry from 2017, overseeing one of the most challenging periods due to COVID-19.

Butler has eight ministerial appointments dating back from 2009 to 2013 under then-leaders Mr Kevin Rudd and Ms Julia Gillard. Most relevant were his appointment as Parliamentary Secretary for Health (2009-2010), Minister for Mental Health and Ageing (2010-2013) and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Mental Health Reform (2011-2013).

His most recent role in opposition was Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing from January 2021 until now.

One of Butler’s first jobs related to the ophthalmic sector will be following through on a pre-election promise to preserve the Medicare rebate for intravitreal injections, which the MBS Review Taskforce recommended should be slashed by 69%.

Labor also promised to reduce the maximum co-payment for PBS scripts from $42.50 to a maximum of $30, a reduction of 29%.

Butler can also expect Optometry Australia to continue conversations begun during his period in opposition about changes needed to ensure Australians access timely and affordable eyecare.

Specifically, the organisation is calling for a $22.6 million investment over the next five year “to deflect a looming eye health crisis”, which would see greater use of the optometric workforce.

The Australian Society of Ophthalmologists told Insight that it expected to see continued support for eye health under a Labor government.

More reading

Ophthalmic sector reacts to Labor 2022 federal election win

Liberal and Labor vow to maintain intravitreal injection MBS rebate

Federal election: PBS script savings regardless of who’s elected

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